Breakfast of Sicilians!

February 19, 2024

The first time I had brioche col tuppo was in Palermo, Sicily. Little did I know at the time that this was the typical breakfast for Sicilians; a sweet brioche roll filled with granita? What a way to greet the day, especially when it is hot! The last time I had this cool treat was not in Sicily at all but in Spoleto in Umbria when I spotted a sign in a pasticerria that said “brioches siciliana I.G.P.”

The buns are called col tuppo because they have a little knob of dough in the center that resembles how Sicilian women wear their hair tied up in a bun.

Granita is the classic filling, and 100 percent a Sicilian invention. It is made with sugar, water, fruits, and fruit juices and has an icy texture. Gelato on the other hand, is creamy, made with milk, sugar, very little air whipped into it and fruit pulp.

We can thank Mt Etna and the Arabs for this refreshing treat, who were clever to gather snow from the mountain to cool their drinks. The Arabs introduced sugarcane in the 9th century along with lemons and other citrus fruits whose juices were mixed with snow that really caught on and Sicilians began buying snow and storing it in caves in the mountain to prevent melting. The ice cream of the Arabs was called “sciarbat” and was often flavored with honey, fruits, spices, nuts and even flowers. Gelato is also a popular filling but was not invented in Sicily. There is great debate as to who invented it but a certain Bernardo Buontalenti, a Florentine native gets the credit and was said to have created it for the Medici family in the 16th century.

And so it was that granita evolved into today’s luscious slush and the breakfast of Sicilians!

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