Sicily, and consequently Italy, is divided in two teams: arancina or arancino? Here are the origins of the name and the best bars where you can taste it.
You may have wondered at least once: do you say ‘arancina‘ or ‘arancino‘? And then you immediately asked some Sicilian friends or relatives – each strictly with their own idea – as well as some internet research.
About this topic, our beautiful island is split in two between east and west, with each side strongly claiming the origins of the much-talked-about piece of street food.
Saying arancina or arancino is like saying Palermo or Catania
This famous Sicilian product is nothing more than a ball of rice breaded and fried with tomato sauce and meat, but now made in several variants even further from tradition, which attracts the palates of many tourists and others.
Regarding its feminine or masculine name, there is a real derby going on for several years: Arancina for Palermo, Arancino for Catania.
In Palermo, in fact, the origin of the name is traced back to a Sicilian citrus fruit, the orange, from which it would take its femininity and its strict ball shape. Here the argument would seem to go without saying… but the Catanese do not think so.
In Catania and the surrounding area they think that the Sicilian speciality actually gets its name not from the fruit but from the plant, the orange. Among other things, then, in this city the shape of the classic arancino with tomato and meat is not ball-shaped, but pointed: it would be reminiscent of Mount Etna, from which the tasty lava made of tomato sauce comes out when biting into the top.
Wait: the last word to the Accademia della Crusca
Arancina or Arancino? Linguists have expressed themselves by saying that the correct form is arancino for seniority, as the roots of the male term date back to the Sicilian-Italian dictionary of 1857.
However, the Accademia della Crusca also considers valid the feminine form as it is more correct in grammatical terms, because the opposition of gender is typical of our language to differentiate the tree from the fruit. There is half an answer then, but does tradition or language win?
Beyond the how to name it, we agree with the Academy’s definition: “whether male or female, pointed or round, it’s always out of this world!”.
Where to taste the best arancin* in the two cities?
Whether Arancina or Arancino, it is worth trying anywhere in Sicily. Among the most famous bars, we recommend Bar Savia in Catania and Oscar in Palermo.
Savia has been Catania’s most famous pastry shop since 1897 and is located in the city centre, in front of the beautiful Villa Bellini. Here you can find everyday hundreds of arancini in different varieties for Catania’s citizens and tourists, becoming a symbol of the city in all respects.
Oscar has also been one of Palermo’s most historic patisseries since 1965, the ideal place to come in and recover your energy after a long, relaxing parking at Uditore Park. The arancine are excellent and traditionally flavoured.
Well, for the avoidance of doubt, better to try them all!