Rosa Mitchell, chef-co-owner, Rosa’s Canteen, Melbourne
I was born in Catania, in Sicily, and migrated to Australia when I was
seven. I had a quick trip this year for Slow Fish, a sustainable seafood festival in Genoa, then went to Sicily for two weeks. I’d forgotten how much I missed seeing Mount Etna. Now when I travel to Catania I’m always looking out for her.
The thing I love to do when I first arrive is visit the produce market and the fish market, which is probably one of the best in Italy. I love the thought of living and shopping day to day. On my last visit a fish jumped from one end of the market to the other, and the pipis and other shellfish are still alive. We don’t see that in Australia. You’ll also find lots of offal, live snails, and obscure vegetables sold by the person who grew them. It’s a great atmosphere: noisy, busy and quite theatrical.
Some of Sicily’s best restaurants are here, too. They’re not necessarily high-end, but have good honest food. Seafood is the specialty of the area. Also seek out arancini, spaghetti alla Norma, cannoli, gelato – the list goes on. If you’re game, another food that’s a must is horse. Lots of little restaurants in the backstreets have barbecues on the footpath. They’ll grill a piece of horse meat for you, place it in a roll, and away you go.
In Australia, I hold onto home by spending time with family. Having a meal, making salami, pickling, or our tomato sauce day – these things are what we did in Catania, and we continue these traditions. They bring people together.