If there is a good fact to start with this blog post that would be the following:
“If you are from Rome or all around Central Italy you call them Supplì, if you come from Sicily or from the South you call them Arancini and you never get to know the other side of this deep-fried moon until you are able to travel around our Peninsula”
In my case, i was 15 or 16, i believe, and we all went with the school for a 4 days trip to Sicily. And as much as Sicily is all beautiful and it changes at all corners and it’s full with influences affecting its architecture, atmosphere and people, i can still recall to my mind this small Friggitoria (a shop which sells Street food and fritters) and myself stopping by with my mates to have this strange pear-shaped rice things and other delicacies.
I remember a friend saying:
” They taste like Supplì, but they have peas in it…bleah!”. Well, that’s how i bumped onto Arancini.
The origins of Arancini is hard to be dated back. Many assume they are some Medieval sensation as they are often cooked in Saffron before they pass through the breadcrumb falls. The first official mention is in the Sicilian-Italian Dictionary, just a couple of centuries ago. In any case we can tell it was born as some kind of travel food and it is still today a most regarded, fullfilling snack and reigns amongst Sicilian Street food.
The name origins from the Italian word “Arancia” (orange) and it stands for “small orange” as commonly comes in the typical fruit shape. Nonetheless, in some areas, the pear shape, allegedly reminding of the Etna vulcano, is still in fashion.
What is an Arancino? Just a rice ball coated in egg and breadcrumb, and filled with meat and tomato sauce, pea and mozzarella. The saffron variation applies quite often.
Whilst in Sicily, Friggitoria has to have its own warm Arancini, in Rome, a respectable Pizzeria must have on the menu Suppli as a starter.
Romans crave for them. In the flattened shape of a croquette, Supplì are made from Bolognese sauce (without meat, probably eaten the day before), cheese, mozzarella and eventually they are coated in water, flour and breadcrumbs.
The name is told to be some kind of Roman mispronounciation of the French word surprise. As French nobles and troops have been regularly walking the streets of the Eternal City during the State of the Pope, this is quite likely to be true. Maybe some soldier just started calling these deep-fried things in such way as he couldn’t expect what was in it. And, without knowing, this is how he made his silent way through history.
About the suprise…Usually made from day before leftovers, the secret of Supplì is that they have a Whole piece of mozzarella at the very centre. This is why the Romans call them Supplì al Telefono (Supplì over the phone) as when you cut them, you can take the two halves, tear them apart and see the melting mozzarella creating a perfect phone wire that keeps together both sides.
It’s very rare to see Supplì of different fillings rather than the traditional. Sadly.
Since choice is something that i don’t wanna do over food, we just decided to create a Supplì in the shape of an Arancino and fill it up as we like.
A non-very Central or Southern Italian filling is Butternut Squash, very appreciated in the North. Sweet, creamy and perfect accompainment to a slight kick: pink pepper which gives a light aromatic depth. We make a proper risotto out of it, no day before leftovers here. We leave it cooling down for a bit and then we shape these big rice balls (8-10 cm) making sure that inside there is a big chunk of mozzarella and, suppli suppli, a nice piece of Nduja salame: the hottest spreadable sausage from Calabria.
The sweetness, the aromatic kick and fiercely hot spicyness all work together superbly once coated in egg and breadcrumbs and deep-fried.
We use a double coating on our Arancini to make them even crunchier and this is how they will be served at our Aperitivo in Brixton.