Arancini: a typical sicilian dish
To most tourists, this is street food. You don't really get arancinis in restaurants. But to Sicilians, this is a national sicilian emblem, cooked with time and love by their mothers and grandmothers. Everybody knows a person 'who makes the best arancinis'.
It could be preposterous for a Swiss to try and make such a difficult and symbolic dish, but I came well-equipped with some tastings and the absolute reference on Sicilian cuisine, Il diamante della grande cucina di Sicilia (The Diamond of the Great Cuisine of Sicily), written by Sicilian theater director with a passion for food Pino Correnti. Each recipe is explained in great details, with all the technicalities and tours-de-main as well as ample historical background.
What brought these glorified deep-fried stuffed rice croquettes such reverence? I am not sure. But they certainly hold a high status in Sicily. The most widely read author in Italia, Camilleri, whose 'Montalbano' detective novels fostered a hugely successful string of 12 movies, wrote one of the novels around this dish. In 'Gli arancini di Montalbano', the commissioner Montalbano goes to great lengths to ensure he can accept the invitation to eat arancinis on New Year's Eve at one of his informants' mother's house.