The ancient fishing village of San Vito Lo Capo, located between the Gulf of Castlleammare and the city of Tarapani on the northern coast of Sicily, Italy celebrates its annual Cous Cous Festival each September. Dedicated to exploring the culinary and cultural aspects of the tasty Mediterranean dish the festival celebrates the cultural legacy of the Arabic peoples who ruled Sicily for more than 150 years.

Cous cous originally arrived in Sicily with the Arabs from Morocco and other areas of Northern Africa who landed on the island in 827. By 903 they ruled all of Sicily and would continue to do so until the Normans began their conquest of the island in 1060. Despite the change in rulers the cultural and culinary stamp of Arabic culture would remain.

Cous cous is a very small granular pasta, often eaten with vegetables and lamb. The most wonderful thing about Cous cous is its ability to carry the flavor of the sauce or other ingredients it is mixed with. Eaten with the hands, cous cous is a community meal, often served from a large round platter. Careful, though! There is a very serious etiquette to eating with your fingers. Another variety of cous cous, Israeli cous cous, or by its Arabic name, maftoul, is larger--almost pearl-size--nuttier-tasting than its familiar Moroccan counterpart.

San Vito Lo Capo's Cous Cous Festival's principal event is a cous cous cook-off with the best cous cous Chefs from Israel, Morocco, Egypt, France, Algeria, Tunisia and Italy participating to determine who indeed is the cappo of cous cous in the Mediterranean.

The cous cous festival focuses on more than just the delicious dish itself. The History of Sicily and San Vito Lo Capo is a smorgasbord of cultural identities from the Greeks and Romans who once ruled here to the later conquests of the Arabs, Spanish and Italians.

The festival also includes four evenings of music, featuring free performances by Sicilian and African World Music artists Nour Eddine, Tinturia, Enzo Avitabile and Nni'lusinghi in the Piazza Santuario in the heart of the ancient town.

San Vito Lo Capo Cous Cous Festival
From September 19 – 23
San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily, Italy
Tel. 091.6263080

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