FROM THE ANCIENT GREEKS TO…SICILYWINE.COM
Agriculture, together with fishing, have been among the major activities performed by Sicilians, and their conquerors, since ancient times.
Under a sun that shines for 6-8 months per year and a fertile territory, most of volcanic origin, with varying microclimates and altitudes, from the Iblei Mountains to the Madonie and Etna, to the valleys and plateaus along the beaches, Sicily allows for all types of cultivation. It was for this reason that the ancient Greeks decided to venture to opposite shores of the Mediterranean and establish different colonies on the island, many of which, such as Siracusa, or Syracuse once capital of Magna Grecia, or “Great Greece”, became so important that their names persist today. The first indigenous inhabitants of the island, of 3000 B.C., the Sicani, and the Siculi, were dedicated to the foraging of wild fruits of the island, nourishing themselves with berries.
We do not know much about the culinary habits of the Phoenicians, originally from what we call Lebanon today, who were skilled sailors that journeyed along the entire Mediterranean, conducting business with all types of products, and founding important cities such as Palermo (which means “port city”).
While the Phoenicians were able fishermen, they were not, however, great cultivators. Despite this, we most likely owe them for the arrival of the olive and fig plants to our island.We know that the Phoenicians surely ate boiled greens, dried fruit, and fried fish. Remnants of their civilization are still visible at Motya, a small island near the coast of Marsala.
In 500 B.C., the Carthaginians of North Africa established their first settlements, but they were not the only ones. In fact, during nearly the exact same period on the southeastern coast of Sicily, between Syracuse, Naxos and Taormina, the Greeks arrived. Right away, the Greeks found this land ideal for the cultivation of their favorite plants: the strong olive and the vine.War broke out almost immediately between the Greeks and the Carthaginians, but lets leave that part for the historians.
Very close to, in Gela a great Siceliot-Greek poet, Archestrato of Gela (IV century BC), wrote “Hedypatheia” or “Gastronomy”, the first Poem of Gourmet. As a young poet Archestratus was disciple of the most famous Epicurus, becoming an Expert in the art of pleasure. In his poem Archestratus tells of his long journeys in search of the best food and the finest wines. It also deals with the bread, fish, the production and storage of wine and food. It focuses mainly on fish, indicating the best quality, the places of origin, the most famous species and the specific fishing seasons. The first gourmet book in the world. – See more also Wine Trails of Sicily >>