First of all, if you are on a diet don't go to Sicily. This is important. Air has calories there - a single lungful must be about 4 kcal (if you take it in downtown Palermo, you also get 75% of your RDA of benzene). This is the only logical explanation that fits the known facts: every tourist who spends at leas a week in Sicily comes back with a padded waistline.
Don't even try to test your willpower. Resistance is futile. You will assimilate Sicilian food, lots of it, whether you want it or not.
Don't tell a Sicilian that you visited his land and failed to taste even a single one of the items listed below; they'll be disappointed and will ask you to go back soon to correct your mistake, and plane tickets don't grow on trees.
So, in alphabetical order:
- Almond cookies: small pellets of almond paste variously covered with powdered sugar, chocolate, almond slices or pine nuts. You have been warned.
- Arancini: called "arancine" in the Palermo area; the name means "small orange". Guess how they look like. They are actually balls of rice with a core of meat, vegetables or cheese, breaded and fried. They are used either as first course or as appetizers, depending on their size and filling.
- Cannoli: one of the better known Sicilian desserts (they make a cameo appearance in The Godfather part I and III), their fried tube-like shells hold sweet ricotta cheese. A kilogram of cannoli packs about 4*10^6 Calories; for comparison, the Hiroshima blast has been rated at 15*10^9 Calories.
- Cassata: this cake is a feast for the eyes. Flat and round, it has a light green marzipan strip around the edge, while the top is shiny white glazed sugar decorated with multicolored candied fruit. The LD50 for cassata is a small slice for every 10 kilos of body weight.
- Fish couscous: Sicily had been ruled by Arabs for a long time, and when they were forced to leave they left behind this exceptional recipe. Actually you can get an excellent fish dinner for as low as 12 euros - cheaper than McDonald. Look at the menu prices in the restaurant window, and if you pick a small coastal town the fish will still be wondering why all the water has suddenly been replaced with onion sauce.
- Glicine: a white wine, it's not as famous as the rest of this list, but give it a try.
- Granita al caffè: roughly translates as shaved ice coffee, it's sweet, energetic, cool and best served between two layers of whipped cream (one at the bottom of the glass, the other on top of the granita) that act as an insulant against the hot Sicilian summers.
- Latte di mandorle: A refreshing pearly white drink (literally "almond milk") made with almond paste. It tastes, surprisingly, of almonds.
- Marsala: the writeup by exceptinsects is quite good, I'll simply add that there is a variety of this fortified wine called "marsala all'uovo", where they add spices and eggs to the wine. Trust Sicilians to put proteins everywhere.
- Nero d'Avola: ruby red, with a high alcohol content (13.5%), it's the king of Sicilian wines.
- Prickly pears: we weren't able to find them in Sicilian markets, for a good reason: they grow on trees! Well, not actually trees, but the prickly pear cactus is fairly widespread. Farmers in Sicily protect their lands with low stone walls, lupare and hedges of cacti.
This list is not complete, by all means. These foods represent only the small part of Sicilian cuisine that was personally tested by yours truly. Now please excuse me while I roll to my bedroom.