The explanation must begin with an appreciation of the fact that Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. While not so important in today’s world of aviation, it was very important to all the European and North African ships sailing in and around the Mediterranean from the beginning of time.
Sicily, not then a part of mainland Italy, was a long & short-time stopping place for nations like Spain, England, France, Greece, Tunisia, etc., who sometimes came to drop in for a visit or business or conquering/ruling for as long as they could.
As a result, almost as many languages were spoken in Sicily as are now spoken in New York City. Also like New York City, Sicily became home to many different people, languages, cultures and no less the cuisines of people such as Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Romans, Greeks, Spanish, even Germans and many others. Much of this conglomeration was diluted in the 19th Center when Sicily became part of Italy and Italy’s latin-based speech became dominant.
Ergo, besides having fertile soil and pleasant climate, Sicily had/has a such a legacy of so many recipes, cuisines and spices from all the other nations, visiting or conquering, that Sicily became known as “God’s Kitchen”.
As time passed, there remained many different dishes/recipes that have the DNA of all the nations above, but a standard, trademarked diet rose to the surface and is what we now call the Mediterranean Diet of mostly seafood with very fresh vegetables, fruit and wine. It is the world’s most recommend health diet [which I understand might include a glass of wine – after all Sicily is Italy’s biggest wine producer].
To our good fortune, our part of our nation has many many restaurants that cherish and preserve this legacy such as the Del Arte Italian family restaurant in Orangeburg owned and operated by John Carollo, a native of Sicily with a passion for the richness, diversity, almost exotic in some cases and always a taste treat to one’s palate of the gift of Sicilian food. You may not know how the food is spiced with what, but you’ll love it.