I’m not religious, but I definitely have a penchant for the spiritual; superb music and food (OK, and perhaps sex) often inspire ethereal metaphors and during our trip through Sicily, I found myself uttering more than my share of gastronomical hallelujahs.
Prior to our arrival on Italy’s southern island, as budget travellers, we’d prided ourselves on self-catering. That game plan went out the window in Sicily though; the standard of dining was simply too good!
As a vegetarian and lifelong pasta fanatic, the Sicilian favourite Penne Alla Norma was a consistent source of pleasure. The dish’s primary ingredients are eggplant, salted ricotta and tomatoes, and legend has it, the dish was named after Italian composer Vincenzo Bellini’s opera “Norma”.
I made a point of sampling it wherever possible, and, in true Italian style, the highlight came from a cheap and cheerful restaurant along the Ristorante Porta Marina da Salvo on the northwest side of Siracusa’s Ortigia island (see map).
‘Sumptuous’ isn’t a word I’d naturally use to describe pasta, but it fitted this dish to a tee; the robust combination of tomatoes and eggplant contrasted deliciously with the salty ricotta, and the dish was lubricated with a generous drizzle of olive oil ensuring it disappeared off my plate by the time my dinner companions had even made a proper dent in their meals.