Savoring Sweet Sicily

March 15, 2008

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Whet your culinary knowledge as Chef Natalie dishes out the history of Sicily's food culture from ancient times to the present. She also regales us with the tale of the great wave of immigrants to the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, and how they adapted their unforgettable food.

Natalie Zarzour grew up cooking and baking with her Sicilian family in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. Her childhood was filled with memories of helping her grandparents, aunts, and uncles grow vegetables and herbs and make homemade sausages, breads, and cookies, and of course, listening to fascinating stories about the old country. But all this amounted to only a taste of what was to come during her first visit to Sicily at age 15, becoming enamored with the island and its food. She learned all she could during subsequent trips. These experiences found their way into her academic career at DePaul University in Chicago, where she studied Political Science with a concentration in the politics of food and culture.

In November of 2002, Natalie married Nicolas Zarzour of Zahle, Lebanon, and together they opened Pasticceria Natalina as a statement against the Americanization and commercialization of ethnic foods in the United States. After only one year, their Sicilian pastry shop on the Chicago's North side has received countless awards and accolades from the likes of Chicago Magazine, the Chicago Reader, Fra Noi, The LTH Forum, and most recently, Food & Wine magazine.

 

Recorded Saturday, March 15, 2008 at Chicago History Museum.