Our Sicilian Heritage ~ Joya Fine Foods

My Sicilian parents Giovanni and Giovanna independently immigrated to Australia, dad in 1956 and mum in 1960, leaving behind the post-World War II hardships of their home in Sicily. As with other immigrants of that time, the intention was to help their struggling families from this land of opportunity, and they certainly made many sacrifices to do that.

Mum and dad met in Australia in 1961 (a wonderful story for another time), married in 1962 and by 1970 their family had grown by 5 children. We originally lived in a shared house in Carlton and then again in Richmond and Huntingdale. Finally, in 1970's Noble Park, my parents were able to purchase our first home, settling in the Southeast suburbs of Melbourne. Life was busy, exciting and interesting with much to celebrate. Family values are of the highest importance in a Sicilian family. Some would say that these values are instilled in our DNA. It was no different for my mum and dad. They protected and loved us and taught us family values that were important to them, like the importance of loyalty, honesty, integrity and responsibility - just to name a few, for which I am very grateful.

Sicily is well known for the quality of its almonds that are used to make sweets such as Joya’s Amaretti and Biscotti. The climate around the volcano, Mt Etna, is an ideal setting for almond trees. In this climate, they don't require any herbicides or pesticides, since the tree is in its natural environment, therefore maintains a strong flavour and a very high quality, the perfect medium for Amaretti.

Traditions are ingrained in Sicilians - especially in our family. Any excuse to bring family and friends together for a celebration; Religious festivals, Births, Deaths and Marriages... We celebrate by getting together, dancing, playing cards and food - but mostly with food.

Sicilians are deeply proud of their cuisine and, as it’s a Mediterranean Island, it has one of the healthiest diets in the world. Sicilian cuisine is a connection to the “old world” (our past), a connection to family still in Sicily (our present), and to connect our younger generations to their heritage (our future).

In recent times, Sicilian cuisine has earned popularity in Australia but is yet to earn its place at the top of the ladder here, in the Alpine Region.