L’arancina is the most popular and traditional street food in Sicily. L’arancina is a deep-fried rice ball with various fillings. The two traditional ones are “a carne” and “a burro”, which mean ragu (mincemeat) and ham and cheese. However, over the last few years, people have started doing lots of different fillings, from mushrooms to sausage, to spinach and even sweet ones with Nutella inside! The traditional day to eat arancinas is the 13th of December for the Saint Lucia Day.
The story behind L’arancina
The reason they are traditionally eaten on this day is because in 1646, Palermo was hit by famine. However as the story goes, Palermo’s inhabitants prayed for its end to Santa Lucia. On the 13th of December 1646, the actual day of Santa Lucia, their prayers were answered by the miraculous arrival of a boat containing grain. Because the population was so hungry, they couldn’t wait to mill it, so the grain was boiled. Traditionally from that day onwards, no milled grain is consumed on the 13th of December, so no one in Palermo eats pasta or bread. Consequently, a lot of rice is consumed, hence the invention of the Arancina!
Today the Arancina is known worldwide and even Paul Hollywood, when he visited Palermo, had to eat one.