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Italia Nostra: Caltanissetta exalts its strong vocation for the art of pastry – il Fatto Nisseno

Leandro Janni, President of Italia Nostra Sicilia underlines Nissen’s vocation for the art of pastry.

“Breaking the 5-meter record for the largest cannoli in the world: the unique challenge, authorized by London, will take place in Caltanissetta, today September 11, 2022, thanks to Ristoworld Italia, with the patronage of the Sicilian Region and the Municipality of Caltanissetta, with the coordination of pastry chef Lillo Defraia, Knight of the Italian Republic, assisted by Luigi Li Veli, expert in Guinness procedures.

On the calendar of events and corollary of the record attempt, there will be chefs and pastry chefs from various associations from all over Italy.

With the cutting of the ribbon, today the Guinness World Records attempt is launched, with the proclamation ‘unofficial’ in the presence of Guinness delegate Robert Sherman and the free distribution of the dessert to the citizens present. Sponsor of the event Anna Martano, prefect for Sicily of the Italian Academy of Gastronomy and Gastronomy. Guest of honor, the military delegation belonging to the VP-9 Antisubmarine Flight Group of the United States Navy and the soldiers of the United States Air Force (US Air Force) of the base of Sigonella who, today, September 11, commemorate one of the events that marked the recent history of the world.

The twinning between the military of Sigonella and the firefighters of Caltanissetta is also envisaged within the framework of the event.

But let’s move on to the cannolo or “cannolu”, a typical Sicilian dessert, known and renowned all over the world, a dessert with a unique taste. Sicilian cannoli are a pride of our island, together with cassata, cassatin, iris, almond pastries, they are among the most popular desserts in the world. Served in restaurants as a dessert to be enjoyed in their original format or in a miniature version, the Sicilian cannoli enchant with their typical bubbles and shimmering ricotta cream from the pastry shop windows. They attract attention on the streets of Sicilian towns or at events, sold as sweet street food to fill right now.

Like all regional recipes, even for Sicilian cannoli there are secrets and versions that change from town to town or from family to family: there are those who choose to add cocoa and Marsala to the dough; others, on the other hand, also use it to flavor the base with coffee or cinnamon. Ricotta cream, on the other hand, is almost always enriched with chocolate pieces and the finished cannoli are often topped with chopped pistachios, chocolate shavings or candied fruit. But the fundamental rule is one: the cannoli must be filled at the last moment, to enjoy all their crunch, in contrast to the sweet sweetness of the ricotta.

It is therefore natural to think that it was the Sicilians who invented the cannolo, but in reality this is not the case. The cannolo is actually a candy of Arabic origin. It should be remembered that there are countless recipes and traditions that the Sicilians discovered and acquired during the period of Arab domination. Many words in the Sicilian dialect derive from Arabic. A very rich legacy that the Arabs left to the Sicilians, a legacy that is still very important today. But how are cannoli born?

There are several legends about it. One of the best known is linked to the town of Caltanissetta. The name “Caltanissetta” derives from the Arabic “Qal’at an-nisāh” – “Castle of women”. Someone has speculated that Pietrarossa Castle was a harem of the Emir of Palermo, who relegated his wives to a safe and almost impenetrable place. In this regard, the legend of the birth of the Sicilian cannoli was born: the women, waiting for the groom, in the inaccessible castle, would have invented a dessert whose crust could withstand long waits without spoiling and which could be filled with ricotta. fresh as soon as the lookouts saw the emir’s procession. Thus was born the cannolo – which takes its name from the river reeds used to roll out the dough and then fry it in lard.

According to another hypothesis, it would seem that the recipe for cannoli filled with ricotta is much older than the Arab domination in Sicily, a recipe that the women of the harems knew very well for a very long time, transmitted from generation to generation. Not something born in Caltanissetta, then, but a recipe they were already very familiar with. Proponents of this hypothesis recall that after the Arab domination, some women in the harems converted to Christianity and became nuns in the various monasteries on the island. Some made this choice of their own free will, while others were forced to become nuns when the Christians reconquered Sicily. What is certain is that they brought their knowledge of ancient recipes, including that of cannoli, to the monasteries. From there, from the monasteries, the cannoli then spread to all parts of the island, becoming what it is today, one of the most famous desserts in the world.

It also seems that the Sicilian cannoli has been used in the past to bring a real joke to life. The cannolo cake is shaped like a tap. So just letting the ricotta out instead of the water was enough to get a lot of laughs. Seriously, the cannolo has always been prepared on the occasion of carnival festivities, but now this role, limited to the time of Carnival, is completely outdated. Sicilian cannoli are always present in the windows of pastry shops. And today they can even be purchased directly online. And real kits are available for the preparation of cannoli, to be used at the moment, to guarantee the particular crispiness of the wafer.

Returning to today’s unique challenge, September 11, 2022, to the world record, we could say: “a cannolo like a cannon”. In Caltanissetta. The city, however, confirms, exalts, in a brilliant way, its strong vocation for the food industry, for the art of pastry.

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