BENVENUTI A SCIACCA PER LA FESTA DEL MARE IN ONORE DI SAN PIETRO….Welcome to my paternal grandparents
town of their birth, Sciacca , in the province of Agrigento, Sicily…A beautiful seaside town on the South side of the island,
it faces Africa separated by the vast Mediterranean Sea. On June 29, the Christian world honors the life of St.Peter the
Apostle and Fisherman, but in Sicily, and in Sciacca in particular, the day is more special as San Pietro is the Patron Saint
of Sicilian Fisherman. Being an Island, and a rough and arid terrained one at that many people turn to the sea for their
jobs. It is a celebration of the blessings the Saint provides to them, their safety, and a celebration of the treasures that
come from the sea. Anchovies, or ALICI are one of the most prolific and lucrative catches in the town…the Anchovies of
AGOSTINO RECCA are known to be some of the best in the world. I use them exclusively and I’m very lucky that most
of the Salumeria in my area carry that brand. They are caught and packed for export in Sciacca. A connection to the
In the picture you
can see the men of the Society of San Pietro tranporting the Statue of St.Peter on their shoulders down the hill to
the harbor. In the above picture you see them at the docks where the statue is transferred to a boat, then rowed out
into the harbor, boats filled with fisherman following it. It then returns to the shore and the feasting begins. The left
of the above picture shows the program of the feast.
So by now you all know my name, Peter…another Italian tradition is to celebrate the Saint whose name you bear on their particular feast day. These are days set up by the Church to honor a saint, Every Saint has one, and every one in Italy celebrated saying
“Buon Onomastico” and as my grandparents did, pull your ear lobe. My wife (who is Irish and German-American) did just that
when she came home from work today. She learned it from my grandparents years ago..another great tradition.
So my name is attached to an ancient tradition from the town my grandparents were born in. Also, my great-grandfather was
Pietro di Stefano Vizzi, and my dad was Pietro Daniel Battaglia…a long line of Peters who share a tradition.
Here comes the A FOOD OBSESSION food angle in all of this. Thinking today about what to make for dinner and of course
I think SEAFOOD, IT’S SAN PIETRO PESCATORE day! No time, and the fridge is full of meat. So, what to do? I had some
ground veal, maybe 3/4 lb. Then, I’m thinking anchovies, they pair so nicely with veal. Then I said macaroni, and I have
the perfect shape for this meaty sauce, Cellentani, like a fusilli with a hole through the center. And before you could say
A FOOD OBSESSION I came up with CELLENTANI PER SAN PIETRO..I would celebrate the flavors of Sicily in a pasta
There’s the dish…wow..it came out great and had
all the flavors I was looking for…AND it was quite festive for this special Name Day of mine! The Cellentani pasta were
the perfect shape for this sauce, but not the most popular shape to find around the country. When making a dish and
blogging about it, I was to be mindful that a global audience is reading this and not everything is readily available.
Fusilli or Cavatappi would be a good substitute. Start cooking by adding 2 tbs. of olive oil to a deep and wide skillet. Add 3/4 lb.
of ground veal, 2 tsp. of fennel seeds which you have rubbed between the palms of your hand..important step here:
this helps to release the aromatic oils which will flavor the sauce. Let the meat start to sizzle , then add 2 Anchovy
filets and mash them into the oil with a fork. Add 1 tsp. of oregano which you rubbed between your hands to the
skillet. Stir well.
Let this cook for 8 minutes. Then add 2 sliced cloves of garlic, 1 tsp. of salt, some black pepper,and 2 tbs. of
fresh chopped parsley. When fragrant,, about 3 minutes, add 1/2 glass of red wine. Sitr well and bring it up
to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
Let this cook for 5 minutes, then add one can of paste, 1 can of San Marzano tomatoes which you have
already crushed with your hand, 1 pinch of sugar, dash of black pepper…then add 1 empty paste can
filled with water, stir, and simmer for 30 minutes. In the meantime make your pasta, I strongly suggest
the Cellentani, (Cavatappi)..or any tube pasta with ridges. Cook al dente, and drain. Toss with some of the finished
sauce. One lb. of pasta will feed 4-6 people.
integral to this dish because A. it’s a celebration of the Sicilian Sea, and the anchovies I’m using come from
there B. The flavor is in the background and it’s not a fishy flavor. MY KIDS ATE IT, TWO PLATES EACH! and
they never knew.
Garnish this dish with fresh chopped parsley, adds the earthy notes, 1 tsp. of toasted pignoli, and a good
grating of Caciocavallo, a cheese that is imported from Sicily…you can’t go wrong with this one…
Cin-Cin to all things Sicilian…and a Happy Name Day to all Peters out there!! This pasta will make you feel
special!!!P.S. to this blogpost which I originally blogged a few years ago..I thought it was so perfect to reblog on this June 29..however one piece of food interest that is necessary to report to you is that the most popular dish served in Sciacca on June 29 for the Festa del Mare is the Padellata di Gamberi…a large pan of sauteed local shrimp with olive oil, garlic, lemon..