Chocolate from Modica
One of the great things about being able to travel through Italy is the chance to stop and taste/experience the local cuisine and the local specialties. In Modica, the specialty is chocolate and sweets. Torino is famous for its gianduja, a silky and velvety chocolate made with hazelnut paste. However, the chocolate in Modica is famous for its tradition. It’s a tradition that was handed down from the Aztecs to the Spanianards and then to Sicilians as Sicily was controlled by the Spanish from the 13th to 15th centuries.
I have never tasted the Aztecs chocolate but we managed to sample a bit of chocolate from Modica. I was quite surprised by the texture of the chocolate. It was very grainy and made without milk, nothing like the gianduja I was used to eating in Torino but still wonderful. In fact, I was disappointed that I did not get to sample Modica’s famous hot chocolate. (I should mention it was August and about 36 degrees C outside.)
I did however have a very usual sweet, a little turnover that looked like a tiny empanada called mpanatigghia (mm-pan-na-tee-gee-yah). The lady in the sweet shop said I absolutely had to try this little delicacy, I took a bit and chewed, swallowed and told her I tasted sugar, cinnamon, chocolate and something else I could not put my finger on, orange peel?
“No” she said. “E’ carne di manzo.”
“Wow” I was surprised.
I never expected beef to show up in a sweet confection. I ran out to the car to give Deme a taste and even he was stumped. I snatched up five chocolate bars of various flavors and began to think about how to use them.
Another wonderful treat, torrone. I love this torrone because it is simple, almonds, a bit of sugar and some orange essense. Delicious! (Most torrone I have eaten more like nougat with egg whites and nuts.)
Here is just a small sampling of the wonderful variety of flavored chocolate bars you can find in Modica. (From top to bottom: anise, hot pepper/chili, coffee and cinnamon.) I ate the one with ginger in it right when I got home.
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