February 8, 2009

Palermo Postcards: Street Food

Milse%20at%20Vucciria%20market.JPG Milse%20being%20fried.JPG

There is street food and there is street food. Americans prefer not to know what goes into their hot dogs; Sicilians have no such compunctions.

The capital city, Palermo, stands at the intersection of culinary traditions: Phoenician, Greek, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Spanish, Angenvine and Bourbon French, not to mention those other foreigners from the north, the Piedmontese and the Austrians. All have left their marks on Sicily's multicultural cuisine, so it stands to reason that some of the most delicious meals, and most varied offerings, are in the streets, in the markets of Ballarò, Vucciria and Capo.

Take, for example, a sesame roll stuffed with a mixture of pan-fried calf innards called pani c'a mieusa in Sicilian, milza in Italian, spleen in English. Full of healthy, good-natured red blood cells, accompanied by bits of lung and windpipe, topped with generous sprinkles of salt, two euros. Schietta (nubile) on its own, maritata when topped with ricotta.

Other vendors fill a rolled up cone of newspaper with octopus or fish (tiny blue fish or mullion) or leftover bits of boiled beef fat. Names vary, depending on which entrail dominates: quarume, stigghioli, frittola. Vegetable fritters, too: panelle of chick-pea flour, quagghie of eggplant or cardoons.

Mad Cow put a temporary damper on the festivities, but the demand for this traditional fare pushed the government to a program of rigorous inspection for selected animals. A dozen or so street vendors remain, with fixed hours and relatively fixed stations; a few traditional restaurants also participate and set up colorful carts on their own doorsteps.

All in all, a treat not to be missed.

Milse%20vendor.JPG Tripe%20seller.jpg Salting%20the%20tripe.JPG

Posted by Ronald Holden at February 8, 2009 2:00 PM | TrackBack

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Hi, Ron, if you are still in Sicily and have a small empty space in your bag, bring me some Sicilian pistachios - they are sooo good.


Posted by: Betty at February 8, 2009 4:02 PM
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