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The Cuisine of Pantelleria


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A Bigger Splash is a dazzling, sensuous portrait of desire, jealousy and rock ‘n’ roll under the Mediterranean sun, set on the beautiful island of Pantelleria.

A volcanic island off of Sicily, Pantelleria is one of the most characteristic Sicilian islands. Often referred to as the “black pearl of the Mediterranean”, Pantelleria boasts thermal spas, Arabian architecture, and a delicious selection of food.

The only cuisine in Pantelleria is Pantescan, which consists mostly of plant foods grown on the island. The dishes are rich in ingredients like eggplants, tomatoes, ricotta, capers and olive oil. Being closer to Tunisia than Sicily, the food also has a North African influence, with added flavours such as honey, spices and dried fruit.

Here we’ve compiled a list of the must-try foods on the island.

The Fish

Despite the location, fishing isn’t popular within the Pantelleria culture, so seafood is mostly shipped from mainland Sicily. Nevertheless, just because it’s not caught locally, doesn’t mean it’s not delicious! Succulent tuna steaks, marinated mackerel, and fresh shellfish are widely available.

The Gelato

For a refreshing and light dessert, Pantelleria offers a variety of Gelato. Unlike the rich and often heavy Gelato popular in Northern Italy, the Gelato in the southern islands is made without cream, so it has a much lighter texture (similar to a sorbet).

Pesto Pantesco

The most noted dish on the island is pasta with Pesto Pantesco. It’s a simple, fresh recipe made from tomatoes, capers, herbs, garlic, almonds and olive oil. The ingredients of the dish are mostly home grown, so the recipe is a representation of the island itself. The pesto can be enjoyed with pasta, bruschetta or fish.

The Bread

The bakeries on the island offer flatbreads, sourdough buns, bruschetta, and the famous Sicilian sesame semolina bread (try saying that five times!) The latter can be enjoyed alone, as a sandwich bread, or Pantelleria style with ricotta and honey.

The Fruit

Considering the sunny climate, it’s not surprising that Pantelleria boasts a wonderful selection of fruits. In the late summer, Zibibbo grapes grow ripe and incredibly juicy. Different varieties of figs also ripen throughout the summer. They can grow to the size of an orange, their outer skin smooth and the centre deliciously sweet. There is also an abundance of lemon trees, so a number of dishes are full of fresh, zesty flavour.

Kiss Pantesco

The Kiss Pantesco is one of the most popular pastries on the island. They are made from two thick, crispy pancakes sandwiching a filling of ricotta, chocolate chips and cinnamon, then dusted with icing sugar. The preparation is quite specific, and requires the pancakes to be shaped into stylised flowers.

A Bigger Splash is in cinemas now.


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