Sicilian Marzipan

1. Nationality: Italian-American
Primary Language: English
Other language(s): Italian, Spanish
Age: 19
Occupation: Student
Residence: San Francisco
Performance Date: April 3, 2017
The first piece of folklore I investigated was one that is widely interspersed with Sicilian culture and how that specific portion of Italy spends the holidays. In most (but particularly Chrisitan) European nations, sweet food is not a big part of the diet, which otherwise focuses on heartier and more savory meat or grain related dishes. However, this is not the case with Easter, which is celebrated by many Sicilians through overzealous consumption of food items inspired by the fruity, sugary marzipan. Grown from a confection consisting primarily of sugar or honey and almond meal (ground almonds), sometimes augmented with almond oil or extract. It is often made into sweets; common uses are chocolate-covered marzipan and small marzipan imitations of fruits and vegetables. Unsurprisingly, food plays a significant role in Easter festivities. This is the time for martorana, or pasta reale, the fruit-shaped marzipan that has become synonymous with Sicily, but marzipan ‘lambs’ also appear in the windows of local pasticcerie. The traditional dessert of cassata, made with sweetened ricotta, marzipan and candied fruit is also popular while cassatedde, a baked pastry tart with ricotta, sugar, egg and cinnamon is local to both Modica and nearby Ragusa. Essentially, the sweet nature of this dish is seen as an important and significant stepping stone in Sicilian culture as a sign of preening into a new era of the year, one filled with hope, redemption and opportunity.