About me and this blog

I am a mixture of cultures – I live in Australia, was born in Ragusa, (Sicily) and raised in Trieste (northern Italy) where my Sicilian parents met and lived before and after my birth. As a child I spent two months each year in Sicily with my parents during our summer holidays. The Sicilian relatives also come to visit us in Trieste.

I believe that experiencing the differences between Northern and Southern Italy has given me a great opportunity to appreciate regional Italian cooking. Living in Australia and visiting Italy often (and other countries) to admire and value the similarities and differences in the culinary techniques, ingredients and culture that are woven into a place’s heritage.

This is my year 1 class at Ancelle della Carità in Trieste. I am the second child on the left.

Trieste class

Here I am in Piazza Goldoni in Trieste with my parents.


I came to Australia with my family in the late 1950s and settled in Adelaide; I moved to Melbourne in 2002.

Italy is a place I have lived and travelled to many times, but Sicily has always intrigued me both as a child and as an adult.

This blog has recipes, observations, memories and information collected over my many visits to Italy but mainly Sicily, Naturally, living in Australia, my blog also discusses Australian produce.


Sicily has a rich history and is the melting pot of many cultures, the result of numerous trade routes, crossovers and conquests.

Because of Sicily’s strategic position between Europe and North Africa it has been a crossroad of some great civilizations. In ancient times it was conquered and colonized by Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans. In the middle ages came the Arabs, Normans and Byzantines and later the Catalans, French, Spaniards and Bourbons. The origins of Sicily’s complex gastronomic culture reflect this layering of civilizations.

Cannoli close up

For all the changes in food the majority of Sicilians are still preparing many of the dishes they have always eaten and there is still strong usage of local ingredients and a respect for history and tradition. However, particularly during my last visits to Sicily I have noticed that in many restaurants and among the younger Sicilians the traditional, regional specialties are being re-invented into contemporary, innovative cuisine.

This is also happening in all parts of Italy. Like in Australian cuisine we are taking elements from other cuisines and developing new versions.

The photo below is of a deconstructed cannolo – same ingredients, different shape, much less sweet.


I appreciate the diversity in Sicilian cooking and I am fascinated by locality, origins and variations of recipes especially authentic and traditional recipes.

My interest in food is very much driven by my curiosity in exploring my cultural origins and I enjoy visiting my extended family in Sicily who are  passionate about food.

I have experience in teaching cooking classes and conducting cooking demonstrations in South Australia and Victoria.

I am interested in food production and ingredients and as much as possible I want to eat safe, in season, local and sustainable produce.

I have written two cookbooks: Sicilian Seafood Cooking and Small Fishy Bites and have contributed recipes to other publications, the last being Earth Hour: Planet to Plate.

My Two Books

Media Coverage for Sicilian Seafood Cooking and Marisa Raniolo Wilkins


Media Coverage for Small Fishy Bites and Marisa Raniolo Wilkins


Article in Italianicious magazine January 2012

22 thoughts on “About me and this blog”

  1. I am so happy to have found your site. Like you I am a sicilian living in los angeles.
    You talk about cavoliceddi, my favorite vegetable during my residence in sicily. Yes we have rapini here but they are not the same.
    I would love to buy some seeds. Do you know where I can purchase them?
    Thank You

    1. Hi Anthony…sorry, living in Melbourne I do not know much about Los Angeles. I doubt very much that you would be able to get seeds for a wild vegetable in the US.

  2. Hi,
    I just discovered your blog and have enjoyed it very much. I am also of Sicilian descent. All my grandparents came from the Agrigento Province. My sister and I own Que Pasa Tours in Tampa, Florida and visit Sicily with groups once or twice a year. Many Sicilians settled in Tampa in the early 1900’s and now their children and grandchildren want to return to discover their roots.
    It’s a coincident that my relative and tour guide Alfonso Orlando’s family also left Sicily in the 50’s and settled in Adelaide. They moved back to Sicily in the 80’s. Who knows, maybe your families knew each other. Now that I have discovered your blog, I will definitely keep reading it.

    1. Hi Mary, your name is not familiar to me but does not mean that my parents did not know your parents. My dad was a tailor and he seemed to know everyone.I live in Melbourne now and there are many Sicilians here, but there seem to be very few in Adelaide by comparison. Although my parents were Sicilian we lived in Trieste before we came to Australia.

  3. I managed to get some zucchetta lagenaria siciliana seeds when I was in Palermo last spring and now have them growing here in Southern California. I’m excited to be making your SICILIAN SUMMER SOUP for the first time tonight! Your blog is terrific! Please add me to your email list. Thank you!

    1. You will be the envy of all Sicilians who are unable to obtain zucchetta lagenaria. You have taught me a different name for zuccha serpente. Thank you.
      As for adding you to my email list, I am unable to do this. On my blog you will notice ‘Follow All Things Sicilian and more’- that’s the way you will be able to receive my posts.

  4. Dear Marisa is the zucca serpente or zucchtta lagenaria the same of what we call in catania a cucuzza di 40 iorna [40 days] or cucuzza di rascari wich is about 50 to 80 cm long? thankyou

    1. Yes, I think that it is. I like the idea that it can last for 40 days because it is so long. The Sicilian dialects are so colourful.

  5. When I was in Sicily a few years ago I tried to bring back some fava bean seeds…

    They were taken in customs! I live near Los Angeles and am making fava bean soup for St Joseph’s Day.

    1. I have a Maccu recipe in the blog. In recent years in Sicily i have also eaten Maccu (modern version) made with fresh broad beans. Are you able to get wild fennel where you live? Enjoy the Maccu.

    1. Sorry, I am in Eastern Northern France at the moment so apologies for not replying earlier. Spada is the prized fish and much better tasting…. However I do not eat Spada – they have been over fished and are an endangered species.

  6. Hello your site is great. I came across it as I was googling information on a wild asparagus plant. My nonna gave me the plant before she passed and no one knew what it really was and you have a photo of it on here. I was wondering if you had any information about it. You put up 2 different asparagus plants, one a spikey looking one and the other quite a green leafy plant, I have the leafy green one. Thank you.

    1. Hi Claire, all i know is that the green leafy one is called a mosquito plant in Australia. I guess that is because of the little bumps that look like mosquito bites on the leaves.The green leafy plant is quite common here in Australia, it is often planted as a hedge around a garden bed, however not many know that it is also a plant that has edible shoots.The shoots have to be picked early – they grow quickly and turn bitter. Good luck with it.

  7. Hi Marisa, I’ve really enjoyed your posts over the years. I live in Adelaide but born in Gorizia, near Trieste. My mother’s family is friulano and Slovenian while my father’s is Lazio. I’ve lived there and have visited my relatives all over Italy many times. In 2014, I made a concerted effort to seek out regional eateries in Lazio, Le Marche, Brescia and Friuli. I ate for the first time straciatella and burrata prepared by family. Amazing. Since then, I’ve tracked down some local burrata di bufala in Adelaide and further afield. There’s some interesting developments with italian buffalo herds being raised here.

    I don’t have relatives in Sicily but spent some holidays on Alicudi in the 80s. Wonderful memories of friends and local cuisine.

    Always enjoy your posts Best wishes and cheers

    1. Thank you Claudio. We are an interesting mix of cultures.
      I recently spent time in the Dolomites and we were due to return to Bologna via Gorizia but the weather prevented us. I have visited Gorizia on several occasions and the last time was two years ago I had the bread gnocchi. I will never forget the stinco di maiale I once ate
      in a restaurant there many years ago. It is a lovely part of the world with a very interesting history. Are you familiar with the song that sends shivers down my spine…O Gorizia. I have just put it on to play. Regards,

      1. Cara Marisa, I grew up with my mum and dad both singers. She sang her canati popolari the canti degli alpini and he with his Roman songs. They always sang as duet and they uncanny ears for the descant lines in harmony.

        We’re musicians and my wife Felicity is also a singer and we’ve been collecting the canti for decades.

        I don’t think I know O Gorizia…is it O GORIZIA TU SEI MALEDETTA? I don’t know it but will listen online…I grew up with stories of querre e miseria…In 2014, my youngest son, Gianluca, spent an academic exchange year at l’università di bologna. We spent 6 weeks together and toured the Italian relatives’ regions. I know a fair amount of the terrible history of Gorizia WWI but not the detail. Relatives took us to the most memorable place eg Redipuglia etc. and I brought back numerous books written about it. It was at the time of the 100th anniversary. Chilling….now when we sing the canti degli alpini we have a very vivid image of the places mentioned…inevitably I get chocked up with tears.

        re food, i regularly prepare strucolo goriziano, as per my mum and nonna made it, especially around xmas, easter etc. It’s a little different from all of the recipes from the famous cook book recipes…it has a mixture of fruit (apples,, sultanas) and nuts (walnuts, pine nuts and hazelnuts) with liquors and GRAPPA!!…I love my spinaci in tecia, jota, etc.

        tanti saluti

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Special emphasis on Sicilian recipes within Italian regional cuisine in an Australian context