Father's Day traditions from a small old Sicilian village

A very peculiar recipe from Sicily, made especially on Saint Joseph’s day.

I bet you are wondering what Acate is. Acate is a small old village in the province of Ragusa, in Sicily. Take a map and if you find a small town near the city of Vittoria, you found it!

What is striking and wonderful about Italy is that even the tiniest villages have their own so well guarded traditions and recipes linked to them. And here we are to disclose and share them with you!

Today we’ll learn Acate’s traditions on Saint Joseph’s day, March 19th, that is also “Father’s day”.

Historical map of Sicily

Sicilian (unknown) traditions

Acate, like all Italian small villages, is quite devoted to its religious traditions, that are followed every year with alacrity and enthusiasm. 

On Saint Joseph’s day, adults and kids use to go to the Asta di San Giuseppe in a piazza (square), which is an auction (asta means auction) that lasts from 2 to 3 hours and where you can bid to buy food only: from rabbits, hens/chickens and homemade and/or bakery cakes to the products of this territory, such as tomatoes, zucchini, peaches, grapes, eggplants, bell peppers.

Devouter people are usually more inclined to pay higher hammer prices. The proceeds from this auction is then donated to charity.

And when it comes to food for religious occasions, there are no limits: any food known to man is cooked and the tradition has it that it is all placed on Saint Joseph altars. They are just tables that common people set at home and are positioned in such a way that they look like a church altar.

You can find: bread, fruit, cakes, cannoli, jams, nougats, artichoke pie, asparagus pie, meatballs, cassateddi (fried or baked ravioli filled with sweet ricotta cheese), baddotti and many other delicacies. It’s a huge buffet which will be offered for lunch to three people in need who recall the members of the Holy Family.

Acate's castle, Sicily

“Baddotti” recipe

The most particular recipe is actually the one of the baddotti. This is the Sicilian dialectal word for them and there is no translation in Italian. Their name refers to their shape, as they are small rice balls usually eaten with their cinnamon-flavored cooking broth. Rice and cinnamon: two ingredients inherited by Arabs to which even more is added. Let’s see what:

Ingredients (for 4 people):

  • 500 gr rice (Roma variety or, alternatively, a very starchy one);
  • 1 kg ricotta cheese (1 kg if you really like ricotta, otherwise 500 gr is fine); a half has to be sheep ricotta, the other half cow ricotta;
  • 3 eggs;
  • 150 gr “caciocavallo” cheese (PDO-labelled provola cheese that is typical of the whole province of Ragusa), grated. Alternatively, use pecorino;
  • 100 gr breadcrumbs;
  • black pepper, to taste;
  • salt to taste;
  • 1 or 2 sprigs of parsley, minced;
  • cinnamon powder to taste + 1 stick.

Preparation of "Baddotti"

First tip: if the ricotta cheese has much whey, leave it in the fridge to drain and prepare this recipe the following day.

Let’s start by cooking rice and letting it cool down in a colander. After that, tip the rice in a roomy bowl and then add: eggs, ricotta, cheese, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, cinnamon and parsley and stir well, mashing the ricotta with a fork. Stir with a wooden spoon until well blended or, alternatively, with your hands.

Afterwards, shape some small balls (the same size as pool balls) with your hands and place them in a tray or a big plate. Prepare a broth in a rather big pot where you have to plunge a stick of cinnamon (powder is fine if you don’t have the stick!), parsley and a bit of black pepper. Cook the balls in the boiling broth. When they float they are ready! Now, place them in an oven pan and remember not to pile them up otherwise they will fall apart.

You can eat them warm or cold, with a little cooking broth. 

Enjoy it and a good Father’s day to everyone!

Preparation of Baddotti from Sicily

Sicilian Baddotti

Sicilian Baddotti, sliced

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