By Joan Peterson and Marcella Croce
Sicily is the melting-pot of the Mediterranean, having Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Arabic, Norman, Germanic and French influences, and sitting down to a meal in Palermo is much more than stopping in at the local fast food franchise. Learning more about the food and history of Sicily will make your visit so much richer. It’s what Epicurean Traveler is all about, and it’s where the Eat Smart guides excel.
Eat Smart in Sicily, by Joan Peterson and Marcella Croce, is much more than the translation of a typical Sicilian menu. The first 20 pages of this 145-page guide are devoted to the history of Sicily, with the particular focus on how various conquerors affected (or didn’t affect) the cuisine. Whether its an indictment of the way history is taught in college, or a validation of the fine writing provided by the authors, Eat Smart in Sicily explained more about Sicilian history and its various occupiers, than I had gleaned from reading travel guidebooks, or taking History of Western Civilization in college.
Other sections explain local foods, provinces within Sicily, shopping the food markets of Sicily, helpful phrases to use in a restaurant, and an extensive menu guide. You’ll also find 28 Sicilian recipes here, so you can get a flavor of the island before you go there.
I have only two reservations: First, that there are only 20 featured restaurants. In the U.S. restaurants tend to go out of business at an alarming rate, so their inclusion in a guidebook can be problematic. In Italy, on the other hand, I’ve enjoyed going to the same restaurants for decade after decade, so I’m sure it would have been possible to include more in this guide. Second, there is no mention of the indigenous wines of Sicily, of which there are many, and they’re worth getting to know. It would have been nice to have a section on the wine.
Nonetheless, if you’re going to Sicily, you need this guide — your visit will be the richer for it.
Part phrase book, part cookbook, part travel book, each Eat Smart guide is the perfect guide for the Epicurean Traveler. $13.95 plus $2 shipping. Ginkgo Press, P.O. Box 5346, Madison, Wisconsin 53705
toll free 1-888-280-7060
FAX 608-233-0053 .