Arancino vs Arancina.. Who Cares? It’s a Sicilian Tradition but Catania Wins.

After almost 2 months of lockdown, we’ve finally gotten around to our first non home-cooked meal.. and there was no debate, it had to be Arancino!

This Sicilian delicacy is generally stuffed with meat sauce, peas and caciocavallo (a local cheese), or diced ham and mozzarella. It is quick and convenient to eat during lunch break at work, a birthday party or on the street. It is very much a versatile product for experimentation: there are recipes that include, in addition to rice, the use of mushrooms, sausage, eggplant, salmon, swordfish, shrimps and pistachios, not to mention the sweet variations.

Sicilians all agree on the exquisiteness of their own creation. However, there is a big ass gender centric morphological factor that divides them: the palermitans use the feminine “Arancina”, while the Catanesi use the masculine “Arancino”. This also corresponds to a variation in the form: in Palermo, in fact, this fried food is prepared round-shaped, just like the orange fruit, while in Catania and Messina the arancino takes on the classic and more widespread cone structure.

The debate on the female or male gender got so intense that the Accademia della Crusca had to jump in and try to settle things a few years ago: Considering both the titles and stating that those who say “arancino” Italianize the dialectal morphological model, while those who say “arancina” do nothing more than re-propose the standard Italian model.

The way I see it, one is never enough so there is no debate: It’s Arancini all the way!

Two of my favorite ones in Catania happen to be within 5mn walk of my house here:

Pasticceria Savia (trip advisor or on Facebook )
Open since 1897 in the heart of the historic center of Catania in Via Etnea 300-304, at the corner with Via Umberto.

Pasticceria Savia Catania

The arancini balls here are an explosion of flavors and their warhorse is the arancino alla catanese (basically the Arancino answer to pasta alla Norma: in addition to rice and sauce, the filling is made with fried aubergines and ricotta salata.

Serafino Arancini Espressi ( Trip Advisor and Facebook)
The standard Arancino is the Ragu version. While most places might have one or two variations, Serafino has dozens of combinations ranging from classic to weird.

Our first food post Covid19 was their anroncini and that says a lot. Fair warning though, they happen to be less than 300m from our house. Still, you can’t go wrong! My last trip brought on two different ones: Norma and Shrimp/pistachio.. both amazing.

There’s plenty of other spots in town and i’ll get to them in due time but for now, I got these two to keep me happy!

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