UNISG students Antonio Conticello and Valerio Quaranta are taking part in the 10 Students lunchtime program at the TA and will be in the kitchen on Tuesday, May 28. Here Antonio chats with UNISG_Table’s Bruce McMichael about food, stories and Sicilian street food and what we can expect from their Vucciria menu.
Book your meal at Tavole Accademiche for Tuesday, May 28th!
What nationalities are the team’s? What courses are you doing at UNISG?
I’m from Sicily and my co-chef Valerio is from Puglia. We’re both studying in the third year of the Triennale.
Why did you decide to take part in the 10students Menu project at Tavole Accademiche?
Because we believe in this project and we think that it is a beautiful idea that we, students from all around the world, can share our own food and culture with our fellow students, professors and other guests!
How did you come up with the idea of your menu?
I’m from Palermo, and this is the typical street and market food that you can find across the city. We want to give a little taste of this tradition to everyone eating at Tavole Accademiche that day.
What will you be cooking?
We’ll cook very typical meals that come directly from Palermo’s streets. On our menu there will be:
- Caponata: A dish with aubergines, capers, olives, tomato, celery and onion.
- Arancina (yes, she’s female): a rice ball with meat ragù or with aubergines and ricotta salata.
- Pani ca’ meusa: Without any doubt, this is the most iconic food from Palermo. It also comes with a fascinating history; it’s a sandwich stuffed with beef spleen and lungs, firstly boiled and then stir-fried in pork lard.
- Cannolo: I don’t think it needs presentations, the typical sweet with ricotta cream that we all love.
What is the story behind it?
We want to tell the story of popular Sicilian street food. A millennial story of invasions, migration and cultural exchanges; a story of markets, their colours, smells and extraordinary flavours. This is why we chose “Vucciria” as the name for the menu: Vucciria is one of the main historic markets of Palermo, rich of folklore and traditions.
Can you tell us a little about the ingredients and any special techniques that you use for the menu.
The ingredients are very simple and, like most of our foods, very poor. There’s no particular technique required, but you do need good expertise and dexterity, especially to make Arancine e Cannoli.
What do you enjoy cooking at home?
I love fermentation and to experiment in this huge and fascinating world of living bacteria and yeasts; I’m particularly interested in leavening and bread-making.
Do you have any particular food memories that inspire you?
Entering a very small bakery in a little town near where I lived, smelling that sourdough aroma heavy in the air, feeling the crust, the soft crumb and that acidity in the bread.
This a favourite food memory for me.
What kind of work would you like to do once you graduate from UNISG?
My dream is to return to Sicily and open an agriturismo, where I can grow fruit, vegetables and herbs, breed livestock and make my own wine while always respecting the rhythms of nature and fighting against the climate change challenges that we’re all facing. Of course it’s a long-term project, so before then I would like to travel and gain experience of working in this kind of places and, of course, earn some money to achieve my dream.