The history of the Cous Cous Fest in San Vito Lo Capo | West of Sicily
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8 Settembre 2022

The history of the Cous Cous Fest: the taste event in San Vito Lo Capo

Ever tasted a couscous made with lamb loin and rhubarb? Or with red shrimp, grilled harissa and hummus with wild fennel? And how about couscous with Bluefin tuna, pumpkin and chickpea puree?

Bet you haven’t! And you are probably wondering where you can try these particularly original variations, rich in unconventional ingredients.

Well, let’s get to the point, in this article we’d like to tell you everything there is to know about the Cous Cous Fest in San Vito Lo Capo.


What is the Cous Cous Fest in San Vito Lo Capo?

Now in its twenty-fifth edition, we are sure that the Cous Cous Fest does not need to be presented. The renowned international festival dedicated to the most famous dish in the Mediterranean, symbol par excellence of cultural integration, is an event that is capable of uniting distant worlds that are different from each other in the name of good food and fun.

The event takes place every year in September in the splendid setting of San Vito Lo Capo, in the province of Trapani. A place nestled between two nature reserves, characterized by crystal clear waters and beaches with a Caribbean flavour, whose streets are populated for the occasion, animated by participants from every corner of the planet.

During the festival’s ten days, from noon to midnight, walking through the streets of San Vito you can try over 30 variants of the tastiest dish in the Mediterranean at the “Case del Cous Cous”: here, you’ll not only find the famous recipe typical of Western Sicily made with fish, but also numerous international variants, made with meat and vegetables combined with typical Mediterranean ingredients and aromas. So… We suggest you indulge in savouring the tastes and take advantage of the ticket that entitles you to 5 tastings!

In addition to the Case, the Cous Cous Fest will have an actual competition, or rather, two! During the event there will initially be an Italian Championship, and the winner will enter by right in the International Championship, challenging chefs from all over the world.

Other contests will also contribute to animating the festival, such as the challenge dedicated to young chefs, during which the students from professional institutes will compete with their delicious reinterpretations.

All contests are open to the public, this means that you will get a chance to taste original recipes but, keep in mind: places are limited.

Yet there’s more. During the Cous Cous Fest, the San Vito seafront, as well as via Regina Margherita and via Savoia, come alive thanks to the Expovillage, a space dedicated to artisanal and agri-food products from Sicily and the Mediterranean countries.

There will also be cooking challenges open to all, cooking shows with famous chefs, talks, wine tasting, activities and workshops for children, concerts and shows with internationally renowned artists that make the Cous Cous Fest the most eagerly awaited late summer event of the year.

Got you curious, right?

Read on to find out more about the history of the Cous Cous Fest and the symbolic value of this event.


Cous Cous Fest: discover the history

As early as 1931, the Italian Gastronomic Guide of the Touring Club recommended tasting the traditional cùscusu from Trapani, “a delicious and very delicate dish” that is common throughout the province of Trapani, throughout inland as well as along the coast, from San Vito Lo Capo to Mazara del Vallo.

How did this typical dish from the Maghreb area become a pillar of the culinary tradition of Western Sicily?

Legend has it that the fishermen of Trapani discovered, no one knows where or when, a new way to add value to unsold fish by using semolina. From a geographical point of view, the diffusion of this dish is therefore to be found in contacts with Islamic culture, during the era of Arab domination (827-1090), in relations with Andalusia and Sicilian emigration towards North Africa starting from the 1830s.

Continuing our journey through time, we arrive at 1998 when, for the first time, San Vito Lo Capo hosted the Cous Cous Fest, the International Festival of Cultural Integration.The goal of the initiative is to celebrate an ingredient considered poor, but which is strongly rooted in Mediterranean basin, thanks to an international competition that transforms the dish into the real protagonist of the event.

This is how the food and wine festival achieves its purpose: to raise Western Sicily to homeland of couscous, inviting different cultures, traditions and religions every year to San Vito Lo Capo to take part in the joyful atmosphere of hospitality and fun.

Today, 25 years and 150 recipes later, the Cous Cous World Championship hosts over ten delegations from four continents. The San Vito competition attracts more and more famous chefs, food and wine experts, journalists and much more.

From the official ambassadors Filippo La Mantia, Andy Luotto, Marzia Roncacci and Federico Quaranta, to faces known to the general public such as Chiara Maci, Joe Bastianich, Giorgione from the Gambero Rosso, Sonia Peronaci; many have followed one another in the kitchen and on the stage of the Cous Cous Fest. Last but not least, numerous stars from the world of music and entertainment: Francesco De Gregori, Goran Bregovic, Fiorella Mannoia, Pino Daniele, Negramaro, Jarabe de Palo, Mario Venuti, Niccolò Fabi, Subsonica, Luca Carboni, Carmen Consoli and many others.

Read on to find out what the festival has in store for us this year!

Holidays in September: San Vito Lo Capo is the perfect destination

The Cous Cous Fest 2022 will be held from 16 to 25 September and “Love never stops” will be the theme of this twenty-fifth edition.

Among the guests that stand out this year we find Piero Pelù, Eugenio Bennato, Dargen D’Amico, Paola Turci, Ermal Meta and Lello Analfino.

To find out more about the competition and all the scheduled events, consult the official Cous Cous Fest website, always updated and full of curiosities.

San Vito Lo Capo is the perfect destination to plan your holidays in September. This period is ideal for discovering the area, enjoying temperatures that are still warm and beaches that are less crowded. Our advice is to venture out to discover the surroundings of the renowned seaside resort, exploring some of the most beautiful naturalistic wonders in the world. A few examples?Here’s a list to keep to one side so as not to miss any of the beauties Western Sicily has to offer:

● The Zingaro Nature Reserve, to discover its variety of landscapes while trekking along mountain paths and diving into pristine waters in the innumerable coves.

Cala Isulidda, Baia Santa Margherita and Cala del Bue Marino, beautiful landscapes, where you can enjoy a day of sun, sea and total relaxation.

● The Grotta dei Cavalli and the Grotte dell’Isulidda, including Grotta del Racchio, where you will be amazed by both the naturalistic charm and the testimonies of rock art dating back to the Palaeolithic period.

Custonaci, with its Baia di Cornino and the Monte Cofano Nature Reserve will allow you to immerse yourself in nature among caves, paths, sheer cliffs and pristine marine bays.

Erice, with its medieval streets and the Castello di Venere.

Scopello, with its tuna fishery and its sea stacks, and lets not forget to try the famous “cunzato” bread.

Good food, culture, sports activities, entertainment and nature. Indeed, nothing is missing!If you’d like to live an unforgettable and one-of-a-kind experience, you absolutely must book your holiday in Western Sicily in September!