Only the Italians could find so much passion in a humble food often relegated as a side dish that they would dedicate an entire 10-day festival to it. But that's exactly what the locals of San Vito Lo Capo, in Sicily, do every year with their annual Cous Cous Fest. For aficionados of the culture and cuisine of Sicily, resorts like San Vito, at the beautiful north-western tip of the island, make the perfect base. |
Beautiful and Bountiful
For those planning a holiday to Sicily, resorts don't get much more picturesque than San Vito Lo Capo, and for foodies, there's a lot to get excited about. Every year since 1998, this lovely coastal town has played host to an increasing number of renowned international chefs and enthusiastic visitors, who descend in their droves to pay homage to this versatile gastronomic ingredient.
In 2016 the Cous Cous Fest is being held from the 16th through to the 25th of September. Here's a little of what visitors can expect to experience during this vibrant, colourful, and very, very tasty festival.
Tasting the Mediterranean
While there are not too many people who don't enjoy the delicate flavour of cous cous, any fence sitters will be well and truly converted after sampling the huge range of delicious dishes that can be created from this versatile staple.
Every day and evening chefs from all over the world present their innovative cous cous dishes in a range of venues around the town. Their diversity, skill and imagination is astounding and visitors will be torn between sampling freshly caught fish dishes, tossed in a huge five-metre pan at the House of Fisherman, in Piazza Marinella; the sultry, spicy Arabian dishes served up in an authentic Berber tent, at Al Waha, on the beach at Via Savoia; and the piquant, aromatic regional Italian dishes laced with pesto, from the local chefs on Via Venza. (And many others.)
The Science of Cuisine
For those interested in the science of cookery, the Cous Cous Lab offers the perfect opportunity to watch celebrated international chefs at work, and learn more about their processes in the kitchen. Within an intimate setting, the chefs answer questions and recount stories of their professional lives over a few glasses of fine Sicilian wine and delicious food.
There are also numerous seminars, cooking demos and workshops held throughout the duration of the festival, where participants can get hands-on experience.
Set up in the main streets of the town, the Expo Village comprises a jumble of market stalls, crowded together in a heady culmination of sights, sounds and scents. Stalls piled high with local Italian crafts and cookery sit side-by-side with others offering spicy dishes and colourful crafts from exotic corners of the world. The Expo Village is a magical place to browse for souvenirs or simply enjoy the vast range of flavours that come together to form the backbone of the festival.
The Culmination of the Cook Off
The festival culminates in a fabulously competitive cook off, complete with dancing, live music, and a full-blown carnival environment, in which all the chefs come together to prove their superiority and inventiveness. With chefs travelling from destinations like the Ivory Coast, Tunisia, USA, Morocco, Palestine, Egypt, Israel, France and Algeria (to name a few), and a jury of top food and wine judges from all over the world, the atmosphere is imbued with an authentic international flavour. Anyone is free to join an auxiliary public jury to vote on the food.
More than simply a celebration of cuisine, the annual Cous Cous Fest of San Vito is a heart-warming meeting of cultures, ethnicities and global exchange. For anyone wishing to experience any of the joyous festivals of Sicily, resorts like San Vito make for the perfect holiday destination.
John Dixon is Managing Director of Prestige Holidays and visits Italy at least twice a year. He has been providing holidays in luxury Sicily resorts as well as luxury holidays to many other destinations worldwide for over 30 years.
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