Epicure, The Age

A friend suggested I share this with readers.

Sicilian romance at home

Date July 17, 2012
Jane Holroyd

 Sicilian Seafood Cooking cover

Marisa Raniolo Wilkins, author of Sicilian Seafood Cooking.

Why did you start a blog at the age of 60? My long-time friend Janet Clarkson (of blog The Old Foodie) suggested blogging as a way of promoting myself and my Sicilian manuscript. I was thrilled when the blog reached 20 readers in the first week. Now I have more than 1000 hits every day.

My mother always told me … That my father’s family knew nothing about cooking. There was always rivalry between the two families. My mother was from Catania (mid-eastern coast of Sicily) and my father from Ragusa (south-eastern Sicily). Although Sicily is not a big island, there is a lot of regional variation in its cooking.

On inner-city living … In South Australia, I lived very close to the Adelaide Central Market and as a child growing up in Trieste I also lived in an apartment near the market. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I like to have a strong rapport with market vendors.


Favourite stalls at the Queen Victoria Market? For Italian greens and lesser-known vegetables, Gus and Carmel’s, Stall 61-63 B shed; The Green Generation, I shed, especially for mushrooms and fresh herbs; Mick’s in H shed for fun and Australian produce; Happy Tuna Seafood; Nifra Poultry. For good-quality meat (Black Angus, Wagyu ) try the Greek butcher in the meat hall, first on the right from the Elizabeth Street entrance.

Best 10-minute meal? Salad, soup, pasta or frittata made from leftovers. My fridge is never empty and in my freezer you will always find jars of broth and pulses. Right now I’ve got cooked pine mushrooms collected from the Mornington Peninsula and some bottarga (tuna roe), ready for that moment.

Blogs are great as … A springboard – sharing ideas, sharing recipes for seasonal produce or writing about something unusual that I’m cooking and think others may enjoy. It doesn’t pay. I do it because I always have something to share.
Your greatest inspiration? Mary Taylor Simeti is an American living in Sicily. I’m inspired by how well she has written about its culture and history. I always recommend her books to travellers, especially On Persephone’s Island.

Most underrated ingredient? I’m cooking a lot of artichokes, cime di rape (similar to broccoli) and cardoons.
Favourite ingredient? Whatever is freshest. And I like the taste and colour of saffron.

Fat – love it or loathe it? I like duck fat for roasting potatoes and butter for mashed potatoes, finishing off sauces and making pastry. If lard was easier to get, I would use it for making pastry. Extra-virgin olive oil is also a fat, and I use heaps of this. I also like the taste of oily fish.

First food memory? In Trieste, I remember kraffen, which are like jam-filled doughnuts.

See Wilkins’ blog at

The article in Epicure says that I was born in Trieste. This is not the case, but it is very easy to assume this.

My parents met and lived in Trieste (North Italy). 10 days before I was born they caught the train to Ragusa (Sicily) and I was born in my grandmother’s bed and the same bed my father was born in.

10 days after I was born my parents caught the train back to Trieste, their home and my home. I spent my childhood in Trieste before going to Adelaide. About 10 years ago I moved to Melbourne.


Epicure, The Age

Epicure is the longest running weekly food and wine guide in Victoria and one of the most popular sections for both Age readers and those in the hospitality industry.
Published every Tuesday, Epicure appeals to ‘foodies’ (those who make food, wine and entertaining central to their lifestyles), casual or ‘big occasion’ diners and also those looking for information about fresh produce or new wine to try.
Written and edited by noted food and wine writers and columnists, Epicure features everything from industry news and restaurant, bar and wine reviews to recipes, the latest kitchen gadgets and topical food related feature articles.