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Arancino or Arancina?

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Arancino or arancina? Which is the correct name for the famous Sicilian specialty? A doubt that, over time, has started heated discussions. Let’s try to shed some light on the matter, starting by learning that there are two main schools of reference in the island in regard to the preparation of this delicacy: the Palermitan one and the Catanese. Good reading!

Arancino or Arancina? Arancino and arancina.

Arancino or Arancina?

Wanting to demonstrate how divisive even a gastronomic preparation can be, it will suffice to think of the discussions that have always aroused about the name of the Sicilian arancino, which, according to many, should rather be called ‘arancina’, with the final ‘a’ letter.

It will therefore be appropriate to shed some light on the matter, in order to avoid further, sterile controversies.

Arancino or Arancina: Oranges.

It’s necessary to premise that both names refer to the fruit of the orange tree, in Italian ‘arancia’, from which the original specialty (or, rather, its spherical type) undoubtedly borrows the appearance: a fruit which, in Sicilian dialect, is called ‘aranciu’.
Assuming this, the Catania cooking school preferred to preserve the masculine gender of the dialect word, thus using the term ‘arancino’ (with the final ‘o’), while the Palermo school chose to conform to the Italian language in which, almost always, fruits have feminine gender names (mela, pera, ciliegia, etc.): ‘arancina’ would derive from this practice.
Finally, it should be noted that in the towns of Sicily the use of the two names is patchy, not respecting a precise line of demarcation between the eastern and western portions of the island.

Accademia della Crusca (the famous Italian language institution) has chosen not to commit to one side of the ‘diatribe’ declaring that, in Italian, both names are correct. Abroad, however, the word ‘arancino’ is widely preferred, as evidenced by its presence in the Oxford University Press dictionary.

Lastly, an interesting fact: far from influencing what just said, for the sake of completeness it’s important to mention that in the Sicilian-Italian vocabulary, compiled by Palermo-born Giuseppe Biundi and published in 1857, reference is made to a “a sweet rice delicacy, made in the shape of a melarancia” (“vivanda dolce di riso fatta alla forma della melarancia”), known ad, you’ll never guess … arancinu!

Sicilian Arancini: History, Info, Interesting Facts

The Sicilian arancino is one of those specialties that best sums up the taste, aroma and colors of the island’s exuberant gastronomic tradition. Let’s find out everything there is to know about this unmissable delicacy. You can read the article by clicking this LINK.

Cathedral of Palermo.
Andrea Camilleri and 'Arancini di Montalbano'.

Camilleri, Montalbano and Sicilian arancini.

The place of fundamental importance of arancini in Sicilian culture is demonstrated, among other things, by their presence in one of the most famous books by Andrea Camilleri, writer ‘Sicilian to the core’. In his ‘Gli arancini di Montalbano’ the author dwells on the description of the specialty and especially its preparation, which takes Adelina, a friend of the novel’s protagonist, a good two days! Quite an amount of time for a specialty that is simple only in appearance, that instead, as Camilleri demonstrates, requires experience and dedication in equal parts.

Arancino or Arancina? Etna volcano.

Arancini and volcanoes.

Some say that the shape of the most typical arancino from Catania, pointed and with a flat base, symbolizes that of Etna, the famous volcano located a few kilometers from the city and characterized by continuous eruptions. The resemblance would be evident from the first bite, which, in addition to the release of smoke, would reveal the red filling of the specialty, a reference to lava!

Arancini in the world.

Arancini in the world.

Although the ideal place to enjoy an arancino is, without any doubt, Sicily, it’s important to stress the fact that it’s possible to savor this delicacy also in the rest of Italy and in many places around the world. This is due to emigration that, mainly in the past, led many Sicilians to relocate abroad. Some, in order not to forget the flavors of their homeland, opened rotisseries where, still today, the specialty is made according to its original recipe

Arancino or Arancina: arancine from Palermo.

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