by curiousmiscellany

The granita is a semi-frozen dessert made of water, sugar and a flavoring ingredient (lemon, almond, coffee, pistachio and mint are the most traditional granita flavors) that hails from Sicily. The history of the granita begins back around 900 AC. The story goes that when the Arabs conquered Sicily, they brought with them a recipe for “sherbeth”, an iced drink flavored with fruit juice and rosewater. In Sicily, the recipe was updated by taking the snow from Mount Etna, storing it in nivieri, literally “snoweries”, and in the summer, scraping the ice blocks that formed and serving it with local fruit juices and spices. (Hello shaved ice!) In the 16th century, the Sicilians invented the pozzetto, basically a hand-cranked mixer (Hello ice cream!), where the snow was used not as a final ingredient but was mixed with marine salt and churned around an internal chamber that housed the other ingredients, thereby freezing and crystallizing them. To this day, Sicily is famous for its granitas. The east side of the island prepares them with a smooth consistency, almost like a sorbet, whereas the granitas from the west are more coarse. Favorite accompaniments to a granita are a brioche and/ or a dollop of fresh whipped cream.