In Sicily, the Eye Demands its Share

December 11, 2010

Fifty cents. What does it get you? Not much of anything in the US these days, and certainly nothing beautiful.

But here, in Sicily, look what 50 cents will buy:

Sicilian pastry, copyright Jann Huizenga

Canestrino (basket) with sweet ricotta, garnished with almond brittle and candied lemon peel

Sicilian pastry, copyright Jann Huizenga

Sfogliatina (puff pastry) with hazelnut cream and pistachio nuts

Sicilian pastry, copyright Jann Huizenga

Bigne (cream puff) with sweet cream and cantalope slice

With their opulent use of ornamentation and chiaroscuro, Sicilian pastry chefs are small-scale baroque architects.

Sicilian pastry, copyright Jann Huizenga

Cannolo with sweet ricotta cream and pistachio nuts

Sicilian pastry, copyright Jann Huizenga

Bigne (cream puff) with chocolate cream

The little pastries are less than a quarter the size of a Starbucks muffin. Why does a single one, then, fill me up, when a Starbucks muffin leaves me hungry for more?

I think it has something to do with beauty.

Anche l’occhio vuole la sua parte, say Italians, the eye also demands its share. In other words, what we eat doesn’t just have to please the belly; it has to satisfy the eye.


Congratulations to Lynn in Florida who has won Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey in the random drawing. More book giveaways to come, so stay tuned!

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16 comments to In Sicily, the Eye Demands its Share

  • Oh oh oh! Are there any treats left? I tried unsuccessfully for several days to elbow my way up the comment box here but it wouldn’t let me in. I’ll settle for stale, these look so delectable–just give me a good espresso to wash it down with.

    • Jann

      I’m so sorry about that comment business! You were competing with hundreds of spammers who seemed to flock to the blog perhaps because of the video I posted last week. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what went wrong. You’re so sweet to keep trying!

  • Yum! I am partial to the bigne with chocolate cream:) Happy Holidays Jann!

  • Paolo

    i stumbled across this blog today and loved it so much that i had to subscribe…
    i cant wait to receive your posts!
    Paolo (Australian with Sicilian heritage)

  • Happy Holidays Jann! Buon natale in Sicilia! Sono sicura che avrai una buona festa!! (Specialmente con dolci come questi in abbondanza!) Un abbraccio! Melissa

  • May

    Beautiful Jann! Both the words and the photos. And I’ll take stale old pastries if they look like that! 🙂


  • The difficulty with giving the eye its share is the subsequent battle of wills as you try to resist entering each and every pasticceria on the way to work…. I mean, it’s only fair to give the nose its share as well isn’t it? The aromas are heavenly too. And, you know, as long as you’re in there… and have some spare change… wouldn’t want the tongue to feel left out…

  • Carole DeSimone

    Quality vs. quantity. Allora, I could eat all of them for $2.50. Squisiti!

    • Jann

      Si, tutti per $2.50! (Carole, you’ve been off your island for too long. You’re thinking like an American!)

  • Sam

    Could you maybe offer a box of these pastries in your next random drawing?

  • Fantastico! Yet another reason you keep enticing me with to visit Sicily, and meet these “small-scale baroque architects.”

  • Jann, you do realize that it’s quite cruel to expose your readers to such delicacies when we don’t have a hope in heck of acquiring, say a bigne, for example? 🙂 OMG, now I’m craving one of those little pastries, and I mean somethin’ bad! You lucky girl, you!

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