Sicilian gastronomy embodies the influences of the dominations, who lived on the island. From the cultivation of vineyards, olive trees, the introduction of almond sweets and honey by the Greeks, to the use of spices from the West Indies. Peppers, pumpkins, tomatoes, cocoa arrive in Sicily during the Spanish domination. The use of garlic fried in olive oil is due to the Romans, while the production of spicy and soft cheeses to the Byzantines. Oranges, lemons, sugar cane, rice, saffron, sesame and above all marzipan and almond paste come to the island with the Arabs and stockfish with the Normans.
The popular cuisine had succeeded over time to acquire the various influences, assimilating and adapting them, trying to get as much as possible from the food they had available, using what nature offered and avoiding waste. U cunigghiu ‘a stimpirata (Rabbit in sweet and sour, in English) is an example.
Translating into flavour the image of a crossroads assumed over the centuries by Sicily, U cunigghiu ‘a stimpirata is one of those dishes, so to say, Baroque. The stimpirata is a typical sweet and sour preparation of the province of Syracuse, Ragusa and Agrigento. Generally it is a seasoning for swordfish, but its use with white meats is the version offered by peasant tradition. It is a dish, that combine the strong taste of peppers or potatoes with the saltiness of green olives, the sweetness of carrots and the freshness of mint, all mixed with vinegar and sugar.
To demonstrate the ability and the need to use what nature offers, there are many variations of the ingredients as you move around the territory, for example, the addition of laurel and capers, but the final result is to create the perfect combination of flavours and, of course, of colours. In fact the term stimpirata indicates something that is cooked in a sauce or in a seasoning that softens the main ingredient.
U cunigghiu ‘a stimpirata is the Sicilian culinary tradition. Sicilian families don’t eat it everyday, but on family events, with uncles, grandparents, cousins. It is a dish suitable for jaunts, because it should be consumed at room temperature or slightly heated, to avoid that the sweet and sour becomes sickly, always accompanied by a good glass of wine. We recommend the prince of Sicily and, in this regard, we suggest you to read the article The Nero d’Avola. If it intrigues you and tickle your palate we recommend the tour The taste of beauty in Eastern Sicily, we will take you where they cook it.