The fried iris is, together with granita and cannolo, one of the most famous sweets of Sicilian pastry. There are two versions: baked and fried, both filled with cream. But what is the iris, and what is its history?
Iris is a typical dessert of Palermo, but luckily you can find it all over Sicily! It looks like a donut without a hole, prepared with brioche dough that is breaded and fried. However, the best thing is the filling. Usually, sweet ricotta cream and chocolate chips, but in Catania, for example, the fried iris is stuffed with custard or chocolate (my favorite). 😋
If you eat it while it is still hot, freshly fried, and filled with cold cream, ecstasy is guaranteed. Resisting this delicious calorie bomb is an impossible task. I also eat it cold.
In Syracuse, it has spread only in the last decade. But if you have already read our other articles, for example, the one on scacciata, you know that Emanuele is partly from Catania. And he goes to Catania if he wants to be sure he is eating an exceptional iris. But not in any pastry shop ..! You can find iris in many bars, but, in his opinion, you can find the best in a historic bar in the historic center of Catania, near Via Plebiscito, which in 2020 celebrated one hundred years of activity. And Emanuele must be right since his father has been a loyal customer of theirs for fifty years! 😮
The history of the fried iris
Who do we have to thank for creating this dessert? The answer is simple: Antonio Lo Verso, a pastry chef from Palermo. It was 1901, and at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, the premiere of the famous opera by Pietro Mascagni, Iris, was about to be performed. It was to pay homage to the work that Lo Verso had the happy idea of preparing the homonymous sin of gluttony. The success was such that Lo Verso decided to call his pastry shop in Via Roma Iris.
As I have already told you, there is also a baked version of the iris but, as my grandfather used to say, “If fried, shoes would be good too!”, so … 😁
Iris is perfect for breakfast, but I assure you that it is good at any time of day. Golden on the outside and soft on the inside. Impossible not to try it!
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