Friday, 26 July 2013


Sicily is one of the most popular destinations for cooking holidays in Italy. Food is a very important aspect of Sicilian life as there is a incredibly large variety of locally produced fruits with some not being very common in other regions.

Prickly pears are a typical Sicilian product. The plant was first introduced in the region after the discovery of America and it was named “fico d’India” (Indian fig) because when Christopher Columbus arrived in the new continent and saw prickly pears he thought he was in India.
In Sicily prickly pears have the best climate conditions to grow (the plant is very resistant and adapts perfectly to hot and dry environments). They grow both on cultivations and on their own, in fact Sicily is the world’s second largest producer of fichi d’India after Mexico.

Prickly pears are very healthy and eating them is a natural cure for the human body: amongst all, their depurative features help the expulsion of kidney stones and the adjuvant features are helpful for osteoporosis thanks to the high iron, phosphor and calcium content of the fruit. Prickly pear is often included in slimming diets as a nutritional supplement since it makes you feel full quickly. It is also in diets for very dynamic, busy and sporty people thanks to its rehydrating and revitalizing features.

The fruit can be yellow, red, white or orange and it is in season from August until Christmas.
Even now the tradition in Sicily during the grape harvest period is to eat prickly pears for breakfast. This tradition comes from old winery owners in the past who used to give prickly pears to their grape-pickers because they wanted to prevent them from eating grapes during the harvesting. 

During the summer, if you find yourself at a cooking holiday in Sicily, you will find fruit stands everywhere that sell fresh and peeled prickly pears, useful to fight hot temperatures and burning thirst. In Sicilian cookery prickly pears are also used to make liquors and typical Sicilian cakes, such as Buccellato, which is very common at Christmas time.

If are interested to find out more about local Sicilian cuisine and want to learn creating recipes why not consider a cooking holiday in Italy

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