Bar Food and Cookies

View of Etna

It’s time now to consider at least some of the wonderful foods mentioned in book two, The Terracotta Dog. This remains one of my favorites in the series. Certainly for foodies among us, it is a gem as well–mentioning local specialties of a variety of types. Today I am considering bar food and snacks mentioned in the pages of the book. Inspector Montalbano often stops for a drink with some of the other policemen.

While enjoying a beverage in the afternoon, his bar snack of choice is often ceci (chickpeas) and pumpkin seeds, roasted together. The dialect name for these is calia e simenza. (accent mark over the first a in calia)

Translator Stephen Sartarelli mentions that often peanuts are also included in the mix. While seraching for a recipe for this tasty toasted treat, I discovered a website with author Camilleri’s own recipe for this tasty snack!

Here is the url to get to the author’s own recipe, as given by him to the interviewer. I was unable to get permission to reprint the recipe here–please do click and I hope you enjoy it.

They describe the snack as crunchy. I’ve ordered roasted chickpeas (salted and unslated from One could simply purchase a bag of those and a bag of roasted pumpkin seeds, mix and serve as well. However, I recommend at least reading the Camilleri family recipe.

My own experience with this snack in Sicily comes from sitting at a little bar in the Piazza 23 November in Taoromina, one of my favorite places on earth. We enjoyed the snack along with our campari/soda, watched the people walk by and hten walked to the rail to simply gauze out at the water, Mt. Etna, and a grove of lemon trees below. Sicily is a magical place. If you do make this snack, be sure to close your eyes for a moment and think about the history it represents–simple food to accompany a social moment (Italians always offer food with drinkm especially alcholic drink) and contemplate the joys of the simple things in your own life. For me, it is memories of Sicily itself and the joy of the beauty in my own back yard–birds, grasses begining to push out , small and green , from the tangled brown winter carpet over the yard.

As for the mostaccioli cookies, mentioned in teh early pages, most recipe resources attribute this smpicy chocolate covered diamond shaped cookie to Naples or Calabria–both so close to Sicily, that it’s a draw for me) Most recipes, make an enomourse amount–I have tasted this fruit/spcie cake cookie…almonds, spices, dried fruit (a bit) and found that the recipe on Marisa’s Italian Kitchen (

I think this is a cookie to buy instead of bake at home. I found some sources onine but I cannot vouch for any of them.

Tomorrow I will further peruse the delicacies mentioned in the book and begin to offer actual recipes. Prepare the kitchen!

Published by Jil

Joan Leotta is an author and story performer. Her books include a four-book series about strong women, Legacy of Honor, a collection of short stories, Simply a Smile, and a picture book, WHOOSH! for children that stresses the importance of parents, especially Dads.Her second picture book, Summer in a Bowl will be out in September. She’s a passionate shell collector and can often be found stooping over bits of beach near her home in Calabash. Joan is available to speak on writing , grief share or perform at schools, women’s groups, libraries and festivals, You can contact her at or follow her blog at www.joanleotta.wordpress.comStoryteller

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