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.
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.
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