Granita: A Refreshing Snack
Two summers ago I ventured to Taormina, Sicily for a study abroad program, but in the end I think the food may have had a longer-lasting impact on me than my classes (sorry Ma). But is that really such a BAD thing? No.
By the way this is Sicily, atrocious right? That smoking mountaintop is actually a LIVE volcano called Mount. Etna. It's always smoking and no one even cares. I was careful to not fully unpack my bags in case all hell broke lose and I needed to flee, but I it was not necessary and I had a wonderful time. Alright let's get back to what you're really here for. Granita!!
What is Granita?
No it is not "water ice" you plebeians. Granita is a Sicilian dessert/breakfast/snack that is made from cold water and chopped fruit with the juices. It is then placed into a vat and churned slowly at freezing temperatures until it begins to form flakes. This is done slowly because you don't want it to solidify into a hard rock, like how we eat our "Italian Ice" in the U.S. Once this process is finished the granita is silky and so soft that it melts on your tongue, no need to suck on a spoonful. For more info check out www.bestofsicily.com. Afterwards they top it with panna, fresh homemade cream. It is served with a warm brioche and believe me you WANT that.
This granita has cioccolato and mandorla, chocolate and almond. In Sicily they grow almonds and pistachios so these flavors are very prominent in their sweet treats. They love their nuts so much that there is an Almond Blossom Festival in February in Agrigento (a Grecian town on the west coast).
To eat this little number you must take your brioche and tear off strips to scoop up a fair share of granita and panna. Don't favor one child over the other, they are both special in their separate ways. One is sweet, light, and refreshing, but the other is soft, delicate, and creamy. I am an only child so I wouldn't know this situation all too well, but when consuming granita I take my best guess.
As I said before, I studied in Taormina, a small town on the East coast. The best place to get granita is at the BAM BAR and it is a must if you're headed out there. In Sicily there is no bad time for a granita. They eat it for breakfast, lunch, and as a snack during the day, especially if it's very hot. I often found myself wandering over here during lunch to eat a granita and read a book. If I remember correctly, it was very cheap something like 2-3 euros.
Now you're probably wondering how you can get your hands on one of these babies. You're best bet is to make it yourself by hand with fresh ingredients or to book a trip to Sicily. Here is a link to some granita recipes that look relatively easy and refreshing.
Stay cool and have a granita!