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This post is about arancini, Sicilian rice balls. The name derives from their shape and color, which is reminiscent of an orange (the Italian word for orange is arancia, and arancina means “little orange”).

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My Italian colleague told me about it. The first time we saw the arancini was at Catenia airport but we were running for our connection, so we did not bothered trying it.

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In Taormina, Strit Fud (pronounced as “street food”) –  a chain of fast food store – makes this very popular local snack part of its logo.

arancini-12It was just around the corner from us.

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Arancini are orange-sized rice balls that are coated with bread crumbs, and fried. Arancini are usually filled with ragù (meat sauce), tomato sauce, mozzarella, spinach, etc.

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This was our brunch-snack – we were not really hungry but just wanted to try them. They are essentially risotto made portable with a slightly crunchy shell. Soft and gooey inside. It should be eaten hot (or microwaved).

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Although deep-fried at some stage in its preparation, they were not overly fatty – there was hardly any oil stain on the serviette.

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Arancini from Catenia, Messina (east coast of Sicily) generally has a conical shape (apparently some oranges around here have an elongated shape). There are a number of regional variants, that differ in fillings and shape. e.g., in Catania, “alla norma” (the norm) contains eggplant.

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Strit fud also sells pizza and other snacks.

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We had another round of arancini at their branch further up Corso Umberto a few days later.

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Sooner or later, some entrepreneur will figure out how to make arancini quickly and cheaply, and then sell it globally as the next fast food item, much like what happened to pizza.

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