Sicily and the Mediterranean in the hands of twenty-five year old Elena Amico, who leads one of the few gluten free restaurants in Palermo
In Palermo there is a girl who, at only 25, with her kitchen, manages to tell something much bigger and older than her: the Mediterranean and the island that is perfectly in its center, Sicily. He does it both in his restaurant, the Sesto Canto of Palermo, among the few gluten free of the city; both around the world, when thanks to her abilities she is asked to cook the meeting between the land and the sea, from which a homonymous event. But be careful, the Sesto Canto is the Dante's circle in which the greedy ones are punished, because the kitchen of Elena Friend it is like the Mediterranean currents: deep.
The Sesto Canto of Palermo
Elena spent a third of her life in the kitchen. Actually Elena started cooking long before the current round she has been working in for eight years, when she used to cook at home on the notes of the greatest jazz musicians, her father's passion, as can be seen from the current venue. To bring it there were a series of fatalities, in particular the meeting with the chef Riccardo Panarello, who has been and continues to be his great master, along a long, hard, hard course. Because the Mediterranean is not something that is inherited, but is achieved. It is a decision, not an advantage. So today they share the same cuisine as the Sesto Canto, which in Palermo was one of the first (and one of the few) to pay particular attention to food intolerances with menus and dishes of the day that are always present also in the version gluten free. But the main characteristic of Elena is another: the devotion and respect with which she treats the raw material, without ever altering it more than necessary, just as the products of Sicily deserve. Both those of the sea and those of land.
Products from the sea
If there is one thing that Elena knows how to do is cook the fish, in particular the tuna, which is an integral part of Sicilian history and culture. In this regard there are some noteworthy names, such as the Macaluso family of the company Coalma, which deals with the selection of the best blue fish fished in the Mediterranean offering red tuna, tuna, anchovies, mackerel and tuna cooked in water and salt according to an ancient recipe handed down from 1922. The same goes for the very young Paolo Gennusa of Pure Sea in Custonaci, which completes the entire processing of its fish products in Sicily, including a delicious one tuna bresaola. Moreover, it is also very attentive to environmental issues with continuous monitoring of energy and environmental parameters such as drinking water, electricity and CO emissions.2. But too often we forget that the islands are not only sea, but also land.
Products from the earth
Do you know something more fascinating than the art of bread-making in the Mediterranean? Even more so in Sicily, where for years they have been carrying out important work on durum wheat and on the recovery of the oldest varieties. An example always present in Elena's kitchen is the Pandittaino of the Agricultural Cooperative Valle del Dittaino, in the province of Enna, which completes the entire chain: from the production of grain to its storage, from the grinding to the bakery, for a daily result of about 200 quintals of bread. The Pandittaino is one of those loaves of the past, which lasts even a week, with a high degree of craftsmanship, prepared only with durum wheat semolina, water, salt and acid yeast "criscenti" to ensure the typical sensory characteristics of Sicilian bread slightly acidic taste and the smell of wheat and earth. Not least are the cheeses of the Sicilian dairy tradition, like those of the historic family Zappala; or wines made from vines that stretch from 40 meters up to 450 meters above sea level, like those of the Tenute Chiarelli; or, again, oil Barbera, which at the Sesto Canto never fails, for many reasons, including one above all: it knows as much about land as it does about the sea.
The sea reaches where the olive tree grows
In Sicily Manfredi Barbera needs no introduction. Now a prophet at home and an ambassador in the world, Manfredi is one who leaves his mark, who has had that strength of seamen to carry on a history of land for 120 years. It was the end of the 1800s, in fact, when the Manfredi family moved from Menfi to Palermo and founded the Società degli Oleifici Siciliani in 1888, together with the Florio of tonnare, whose oil was used for conservation. They have since passed 120 years, with periods of high, like the first two decades of the twentieth century and of low. And yet the Manfredi oils came to the fifth generation, drawing something from each passage, even though it is undeniable that a particular vital impetus was given to them by Manfredi, by his travels, by his Mediterranean passion; the same one that tries to transmit to his sons Carlo and Lorenzo (of which I suggest you try the homonymous oil). Also for them, Manfredi organized (together with the other producers, Atmosfere Siciliane and at the Department of Mediterranean Fishing) a moment to bring together, always in the hands of Elena, the land and the sea.
The earth meets the sea
The land meets the sea is an initiative created to introduce Sicilian fish and agri-food products, taking them on a sailing boat and, cooked by Elena, making them taste passers-by and travelers from Palermo to Ustica, up to San Vito Lo Capo (during the days of the Cous Cous Fest). The deepest meaning, in fact, is to recover that ancient sense of belonging to the same sea and its laws, even if the Mediterranean is much more than a simple belonging. And how, if not on a sailboat, a sustainable means par excellence, which exploits the winds, the true gods of the sea; those that only those who live there can recognize and anticipate, just like Manfredi. Doing it by land would not have had the same meaning because, as Predrag Matvejević wrote in his Mediterranean Breviary, as long as we sail we forget the differences, and then remember them once I went ashore.