What are Arancine – Trying Arancini in Palermo / Sicily for the first time
After trying so many Arancini in Palermo I can definitely say, they are addicting! Arancini is a local dish in Sicily, with origins going back through the 10th century of when the island was under Arab rule. They are deep-fried and stuffed rice balls, usually with a mixture of ragú (meat and tomato sauce) with Mozzarella and Peas. But that’s just one of many variations, nowadays there are vegetarian and even vegan options available, pleasing everyone with the utterly delicious taste of Arancini. When visiting Sicily, you definitely have to try at least one Arancino to experience the taste yourself!
What I think what makes the Arancini so addictive, is that it’s hearty, crispy, soft and combines multiple flavours while it’s still very easy to eat (even on the go).
The name Arancino means “little orange” (Orange in Italian is arancia) as the ricy version is coloured in dark orange/brown and is the size of a nicely grown orange, a fruit that is local to Sicily. While the Arancini in Palermo have all been shaped round or oval, as I’ve seen, the Arancini in Catania are usually shaped more conical (an example here).
You can find Arancini at special snack bars, or in regular cafes and restaurants. Order them on the go, for a quick snack inside or as a starter of a multi-course meal, everything is possible. Usual variations of Arancini in Palermo are the “Arancine al Burro” with ham and mozzarella, “Arancine alla Parmigiana” with mozzarella, tomato sauce and aubergine, “Arancine Pistaccio e Scamorza” with pistachios and scamorza cheese or “Arancine con funghi” with mushrooms. As a vegetarian, my favourite flavour of the stuffed rice balls is with mozzarella and spinach “Arancine Spinachi e Mozzarella“.