Sicilian Cooking Classes in Siracusa

This is a condensed excerpt from the March 2008 issue of Dream of Italy:

A typical day for Fiorangela Piccione, a youthful-looking grandmother, begins with pastry baking for L’Approdo delle Sirene, her Siracusa bed and breakfast She dons running shoes to circle the island and then does an afternoon stint at her travel agency. Oh yes, Fiora also makes time for cooking lessons. At one produce stand, Fiora compared big green olives cracked before brining to small black ones pierced with a needle. At another, she chose huge bunches of sinepa, mustard greens, and tenerume, velvety greens attached to dramatically long, convoluted squash. Fiora’s favorite fishmonger, whom she introduced as “an artist,” deftly filleted lampuga, a popular fish similar to mahi mahi.

Afterward, I toured Siracusa’s fine archeological museum with my daughter until 4 p.m. By then Fiora had prepped and artfully arranged many ingredients. She demonstrated her method of toasting bread crumbs, layering them in a casserole with fresh anchovy fillets. Fiora sautéed the lampuga fillets with onions and peppers, and simmered the mustard greens before seasoning with garlic and hot red pepper. The tenerume leaves joined chopped tomatoes in a soupy pasta sauce. Fiora had invited other americani staying at L’Approdo to attend the feast, which began with antipasti, including olives, soft tuma, similar to farmer’s cheese but better, and the anchovy casserole. As we finished dessert, a boat docked just yards away. From the balcony, we watched fishermen unload big blue tubs filled with lampuga for tomorrow’s market. A private or small group lesson with market visit and tasting is 80 euros per person. Call Fiora at (39) 0931 24857 or e-mail — Toni Lydecker, author of a forthcoming Sicilan seafood cookbook

Paid newsletter subscribers can read about more authentic Sicilan cooking programs in Palermo, Mondello, Marzamemi, Modica, Menfi and Regaleali.

Get a free copy of our Sicily Special Report: Sign up for Dream of Italy’s twice monthly free e-mail updates on travel to Italy and automatically receive a FREE copy of Dream of Italy’s Special Report: Sicily ($12 value).