Arancine for St. Lucia Day in Sicily

December 13 is St. Lucia Day, celebrated in various countries, but perhaps most prominently in Sweden, and Italy, specifically Sicily. In Sicily, the holiday is strongly celebrated in honor of St. Lucia blessing the island with a shipment of wheat after a long famine in the 17th century. Traditionally, the dish eaten on this day in Sicily was cuccia, a sweet or savory boiled wheat berry porridge, which is supposed to be the only form of wheat eaten on the day. However, to current palates, this is perhaps not the most exciting dish. In modern-day Palermo the most popular Saint Lucia food is now arancine! Arancine are delicious deep-fried rice balls filled with cheese and/or meat ragu that are popular year round in Sicily. In Palermo in particular, arancine is eaten with gusto on St. Lucia’s Day, and conveniently these rice-based treats do not contain much wheat (though they are typically breaded). In Palermo, too, the dish is always spelled arancinE in the plural, and arincinA in the singular, as opposed to arancini (pl) and arancino (singular) in Eastern Sicily and in much of Italy. This year we will be making cuccia, but perhaps next year some arancine would be in order.

Arancine at Monteverde Restaurant in Chicago

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