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In the year of Covid pandemics, which has not ended yet, all the parties that include gatherings have been suspended. Such as the Mardi Gras Carnival, for example. Thursday will already be the opening of the celebrations that will lead to the craziest party of the year in the weekend. In 2021, however, this festival cannot be celebrated according to tradition. Here on Mt Etna we will not see costume parades, allegorical floats and music in the streets.

Fortunately, the joy of food remains. There are several recipes related to Carnival, in the Sicilian and Etnean tradition in particular. What matters is to eat a lot and eat well. And if you cannot dance in the street among the masks, never mind. The important thing is that the party air remains. Indeed … the perfume.

Mt Etna’s Carnival tradition

If in the next few years you will be on Mt. Etna during the Carnival period – between February and March – do not miss the many traditions of the territory. The Carnival of Acireale, for example. This is a historic event that dates back to the 16th century. Today it celebrates giant papier-mâché floats moved and illuminated by computers, a real tourist attraction.

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sausage from

Misterbianco Carnival is also famous, with its sumptuous many-coloured Brazilian costumes. In Catania city, the center of the Carnival party is the Bellini Park where masked characters compete with confetti. The Etnean villages’ tradition of the festival is still linked to ancient games. You could admire the breaking of the pots, so to receive sweets as gifts; costume parades; dancing evenings in the square; the hunt for the King of Carnival  and its final stake.

Delicious Carnival food

In the absence of the festivals in the square, this year you can console yourself with the taste of Carnival. The Sicilian recipes, and Etna in particular, generally resemble those of many other Italian places, including sauce and pork. On Mt Etna, however, the ingredient to exalt at Carnival is definitely the Linguaglossa sausage. Then also the homemade “maccaruni cincu puttusa” pasta and the ricotta cheese.

The delicious Linguaglossa sausage should be prepared according to its original recipe: roast it on the grill and season with fennel seeds. But at Carnival they make an exception to the rule. You shall cook it in slow times, like a stew, together with the pork ragout that adds flavor to the taste. Fresh homemade pasta is cooked in the same pork sauce.

The Etnean ladies gladly prepare long macaroni “wrapped around a wire”, or alternatively the

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cannoli ph Cardella

recipe adopted from the continent, short “five-hole” (Cincu Puttusa) pasta. Their secret? Create a pasta that retains the good sauce as much as possible. Desserts are obviously the Chiacchiere – fried dough biscuits – sprinkled with sugar or chocolate.  Bronte version of this sweets uses pistachio! But we are in Sicily, and you must have cannoli for desserts!

In the Carnival version, the cannoli overflow with ricotta stuffed with candied orange peels. You could also sweeten them by adding Zafferana honey, produced from Etna’s chestnut flowers. The tradition of Acireale includes the selling of glazed biscuits in the shape of colored masks.

Special dishes to taste

A particular dish to taste comes from the Alcantara Valley. Located north of Etna, its territory is part of the volcano, though indirectly. A typical Carnival recipe of these areas is the Faviàta. Soak the broad beans for one night. Then the next day they cook them – for an hour on low heat – together with Cavolicelli  (the leaves of local wild cabbage), onion, wild fennel, lard and sausage. You eat it with toasted or hard bread.

In Catania it is customary to eat sausage even without sauce. Cook it on the grill or in a pan, with a side of Cavolicelli vegetables fried with garlic and black olives in a little oil. As an alternative to pork sauce, the “capuliatu” is still typical of the Catania area. You prepare it by finely chopping the dried tomatoes, with the addition of chopped almonds, garlic, basil, oil. The result is a pesto with an extraordinary flavour! Certainly worth trying.
(the photo above the title is taken from

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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