When Sicily wasn’t affected by the climate changes and summer did not last ten months a year, the arrival of Autumn meant the arrival of the first cold days too. People started to wear the so called “mid-season” cloths and winter shoes. But, nevertheless, there was a period in November when it was sure and certain that temperatures would go back to the summer levels. This period was always around the St.Martin’s day (11th of November) and this is why this unusual heat was called l’estate di San Martino, St.Martin’s summer.
In Sicily St. Martin’s day is traditionally a special wine feast, a feast for those who like wine and cannot wait for trying the new wine: a San Martino ogni mosto è vino, at St. Martin’s day all must is wine ! And even if the tradition says that St.Martin did not drink alcohol at all, in Sicily he is considered to be the patron saint of wine drinkers…
But because in Sicily, beside the wine, each occasion is a good one for organising tremendous banquets and invent new dishes, St. Martin’s day was also traditionally a day for eating big meals where pigs and turkeys were cooked in different ways. And in the patisserie-city called Palermo, where everything needs to be concluded with a sweet bite, there is a tradition of “St. Martin’s biscuits”. The so called St. Martin’s biscuits start to appear in all patisseries and bakeries at the beginning of November. They are shaped like a round bread or rather a big round draught and, as the famous Sicilian anthropologist Pitrè used to say, they are decorated à la rococo, glazed with sugar and filled with lemon or courgette preserve. Another variety is the one filled with ricotta cream. A real feast for the eyes and a joy for the palate…especially if accompanied with a glass of Moscato or Marsala wine….viva viva San martino !!
Chiara Spinnato, Paesaggio Sicilia Tours