One of my friend’s mantras when she visits Italy is: “a gelato a day.” And with the amazing array of flavors — from amaretto to stracciatella to strawberry — it’s easy to follow that “rule.” But the country of Italy has other just as delicious and flavorful desserts (with less calories) for a hot-weather day. For one, during your next Sicily cooking vacation, grab a traditional granita, which is an iced drink similar to a sherbet and Italian ice.
The history of this iced drink began with the Arabs, who brought their sherbet recipe to the island. Sicilians made it their own when nobles in the Middle Ages mixed ice blocks from Mt. Etna with the juice of their lemons to create a summer drink. Today, a granita is typically made with a blend of ice, sugar, and fruits.
It also has an interesting way of being served. Sometimes Italians split open a roll and fill the bread with granita. Or, for breakfast, they have their icy drink with a side of brioche bread.
A tour through Italy, such as with our culinary vacation Authentic Sicilian Experience for the Food Lover, will introduce you to a variety of granita flavors. In Palermo, try their granita di limone, which is chunkier version of the iced drink. Over on the eastern coast, Taormina is known for their smoother granitas, as well as the flavors of chocolate and almonds. In the northeast, devour the pistachio-flavored drinks.
Granitas can be enjoyed elsewhere as well, as they’re not to confined to the island of Sicily. The thirst-quenching drink is also available from street vendors in Rome and Naples, among other big cities.
Have you enjoyed a traditional granita? What is your favorite flavor?
By Liz Hall
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