Sicilian Seafood Cooking cover
From the publication: SA Life, Adelaide, April 2012
By Marisa Raniolo Wilkins
Published by New Holland
RRP $45 (hbk)
As a passionate Sicilian-born
foodie (evident in her popular food blog, All Things Sicilian
and More) Melbourne resident Marisa Raniolo Wilkins
has produced a veritable encyclopedia of authentic
Sicilian seafood recipes – 400 pages and more than I50
recipes covering all manner of starters and main courses,
but also explaining how to make pasta  (from scratch) and
vegetable dishes to accompany the seafood.
To tell this story with authority, Raniolo Wilkins delves
deep into the island’s history, infused with a personal
perspective. She explains the influences of many cultures
on specific Sicilian flavour melds, and events such as the
annual mattanza off the island of Favignana, the ritual o[
netting and gaffing massed migrating tuna.
Importantly, she assesses the issue of sustainability especially
with bluefin tuna and swordfish, and the historical Sicilian practice of selling and eating juvenile and infant fish – and offers alternatives to several traditional recipes to veer away from threatened fish species.
Other traditions are more straight forward, such as the
essential starter pasta chi sardi, the Sicilian staple from
the town of Palermo of pasta topped with sardines fennel,
pine nuts and currants. lt’s a very informative book,
brimming with pride and purpose.- DPS



Most readers of this blog are not  have access to the Adelaide Review, a long-standing, free publication of local issues and culture.

A friend sent me a copy of a review of my book Sicilian Seafood Cooking published in The Adelaide Review – how gratifying to receive this while I am visiting Vietnam.

This is the article, published in the February, 2012:

Sicilian Seafood Cooking

February, 2012
Marisa Raniolo Wilkins, New Holland. Reviewed by John McGrath ( Howard Twelthtree).

The title Sicilian Seafood Cooking sounds restrictive. Sicilians eat more than fish, surely? And how could anyone write a book about Sicilian food and just stick to seafood? Marisa Raniolo Wilkins has.

A practical, well illustrated book of 383 pages is crammed with recipes, tips, anecdotes and history combined with the culinary tricks that make the difference between a dud and a triumph. The romance of Sicily is so interwoven in the text that it need not be mentioned.

Marisa’s easy style and light touch give the impression that a further 383 pages could be written without repetition.
A chapter called ‘How to make a good impression’ is devoted to sauces and dressings that put the pretty summer frock on your best cooking efforts. The undefinable, because Nonna won’t tell you, is defined.

Statements like, “I find herbs chopped in a food processor taste grassy rather than fragrant…” are wonderful to read. Your carefully portioned out mound of herbs ground into, horrors, exactly the right word – grass.

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, one of the founders of Futurism in the early 1900s gets a mention. He denounced pasta and championed rice. He may have been a titch strange, but he didn’t lack guts; wading into his country for eating the saintly pasta. Marisa tells us that rice was grown in Sicily before 1000 BC.

The first dish I made to Sicilian Seafood Cooking rules was pesce al cartoccio or fish in a bag. Everything sounds better in Italian; we have to face up to it. Fish in a bag is an easy scene-stealer. Follow Marisa and your dining room will smell like the ocean.

Another dining room star is pesce incrostato di sale or salt crusted fish. This is not easy. Have a few trial runs before inflicting this dish on guests. Buy a new hammer and wield it casually. But, above all, follow Marisa.

Tuna testicles are eaten in a recipe that, naturally, smirk, make extravagant suggestive gestures, is, of coarse, good for virility. Have you ever made a tuna/testicles/human link? I certainly hadn’t.

Fish stock is nasty for novices and professionals invariably get around it by using fish sauce. Fish heads and bones start to get bitter after 15 minutes when the vegetables have barely started cooking. The solution: use a saucepan for the vegetables, another for the fish bits.

Marisa doesn’t pretend that Sicily is without stain. The ‘Menu for the Incorruptibles’ honours the anti-Mafia magistrates and investigators who were killed by car bombs in a terror reign in the 80s and 90s.

All this fish can’t be eaten alone so there are many vegetable dishes and salads included. Nothing boring though. A lemon salad, which is mostly pith, for instance. I was taught that lemon pith is an emetic. The first time I tried this salad it was far too delicious than it had any right to be.  But still I waited for the inevitable vomit. Nothing.

The lesson: trust Marisa.

For more media coverage, see: