What do you get when you cross the crispy outer shell and meaty filling of an arancina with the spongy inner dough of a Crispy Creme donut? The answer is the rizzuola, a deep fried Sicilian snack that eats like a meal. This week, my friend Diana and I are headed to Palermo to study western Sicily’s street food. We thought it was only right to get a head start with our research in Rome.
We met my friend Rob in San Paolo at the Sicilian gastronomia Cu Mangia Crisci. It was lunchtime and the counter was full of plenty of tempting baked and fried things to choose from, but the rizzuole were calling our names. These Sicilian meat pies are made by filling dough with ragu’, a rich sauce of meat and peas, and mozzarella. The dough is formed into a patty, rolled in bread crumbs, and deep fried. The result is a crispy, golden brown exterior within which the spongy dough encases the melted cheese and dense meat sauce.
Our preliminary research set the stage for things to come. In Palermo we have many deep fried and meat filled items in our future. Occasionally they will resemble the rizzuloa (the arancina, a deep fried rice ball filled with ragu’, for example), sometimes they will not (panelle). What is certain, however, is that we are very very lucky that Diana’s husband is a cardiologist because after this week, we will certainly need one.