If you came here searching for a traditional Sicilian recipe, I apologize for fooling you. I know that I previously said that my next post would be about my thoughts on tourism in Sicily, but first I must share a hysterical experience that happened today. Then, I promise, I will share some other posts. So now that you’re here, please enjoy my completely sarcastic and comical post about how to properly make Sicilian Torrone, as instructed by my best friend, Giuseppe.
So the back story…
A few days ago, Giuseppe and I were talking about the different foods that I still need to try before I leave Sicilia. Elena mentioned to me a while ago that I need to try torrone, but I still had not (and still have not…) tried it. So, Giuseppe suggested that we try making our own because it is a little bit expensive (for the Sicilians) to buy in the grocery store. I love to bake, and I always want to learn new recipes, so I said yes! So today, we embarked on this journey of making Torrone. We prepared well and bought all of the ingredients (it seemed simple enough) – almonds, honey, and sugar. Easy, right? Well… follow these simple steps, and you’ll be able to prepare the lovely torrone that Giuseppe and I concocted. WARNING: Don’t try this at home, kids.
STEP 1 – Ponder about a place that you really don’t care about. This place needs to be a kitchen, and you may want to find a place that has a few power tools and similar goods. Did you think of a place? Great. Go there.
STEP 2 – Move anything that you remotely care about in this location, and gather your ingredients.
STEP 3 – Google a recipe for torrone just for an idea of what to do, even though this is pretty simple…. only three ingredients. Did you Google the recipe? Great. Now forget about it and say “we don’t need it…. we can do this on our own” (Note – this was Giuseppe’s decision). If you’re baking with someone else, perhaps some arguing may ensue here, but hey… it’s all for fun. You don’t actually want to eat this, right?
STEP 4 – Find a pot in this kitchen that you wouldn’t mind parting ways with (just in case things go south). Put this pot on a VERY old, Italian oven. When things start to smell like their burning without having anything in the pot, you’re going in the right direction.
STEP 5 – Really forget about that recipe that you Googled, and add wayyyyyyyyy too much honey to the mixture. The mixture should be equal parts sugar and honey, but *someone* thought that it would be better with extra honey. Despite my protesting, I decided to let the Sicilian man realize why Sicilian men do not cook… ever. So, let one person dump about half of a jar of honey into the pot, and start praying.
STEP 6 – Once the mixture begins to turn brown, throw in the almonds. Now, the recipe says to gently stir until everything becomes a caramel color, but hey, we aren’t following a recipe. According to Master Chef Giuseppe, you need to violently stir everything until it becomes the consistency of concrete, and the pot is nearly on fire. So, continue with his directions. You should pulverize these bad boys for about 10 minutes, or until the almonds begin to cry.
STEP 7 – Now is when you get to start destroying whatever location you chose. When the old Nonna’s of Italy make torrone, they usually pour the mixture onto a well oiled or buttered table, or onto parchment paper. I’m sure you can assume that Giuseppe *insisted* that we didn’t need oil or butter, or to use a pan. He said that his grandmother put her torrone onto the table, so I let him take control because clearly, he is the Master chef. Perhaps he forgot one of the most important steps in the process? Absolutely.
STEP 8 – Pour the boiling hot torrone mixture onto the table with no regard for human life, or your kitchen. Then, just watch as you realize that you’ve made a huge mistake (or don’t realize it and try to make cute shapes with the torrone). Wait one hour as disaster awaits you. While you wait, maybe eat some prickly pears and play with feral cats like we did…. or start preparing for what comes later.
STEP 9 – After brewing in despair for one hour, take a look at what you’ve done. Are you happy? Was it worth it? Probably not. You should test the consistency with a fork that you don’t mind breaking. After it does break, take a stab at it with a sharp knife. Try to chip a piece off like you’re sculpting a magnificent piece of art. It should taste roughly like burnt popcorn and cement, with a hint of something sweet.
STEP 10 – Now that you’ve established that this is a complete disaster, you have to figure out how to remove it from the table. The *original* goal with *real* torrone is to cut it into small squares… but no no no not this. You’ll need something in the power tools or hammer family. Our tool of choice was a hammer.
STEP 11 – Spend about 2 hours slowly chipping away at the mess that you’ve made. You may intermittently cry, laugh, or want to put the hammer through your eyeball. All of the above reactions are normal. Most of your mess will end up on the floor, and in miscellaneous piles around the room.
STEP 12 – Spend about 1 hour cleaning your mess with any and all available cleaning products. You’ll need to wash everything from the floor to a hammer, and all things in between. Don’t even bother working out or exercising on the day that you choose to make torrone, this will be your workout.
STEP 13 – Celebrate that you are done cleaning. You may also gently weep when you realize that this *could* have been a one hour project with minimal clean-up. Try to laugh a little bit during this stage, it makes the healing process easier. All furniture was left unharmed during this experience.
Viola! You have absolutely terrible torrone, but a wonderful memory. The moral of this story? Never, ever, under any circumstance, let a Sicilian man tell you that he can cook (unless he’s a professional chef). The average man here CANNOT cook, and don’t let him try unless you are looking for an experience as such.