Every city has its own attractions that can’t be missed by visitors. You can’t miss a walk on the ancient walls of Jerusalem while visiting Israel. When in England, you can’t miss the English pubs and its poetical mood hidden behind a pint of a delicious ale beer. When you’re in Venice, it’s impossible to miss a walk around the alleys at night. These are attractions that simply can’t be missed!
When you come to visit Palermo, you definitely can’t miss a street food experience.
When I say “experience”, I mean because a StrEat Palermo tour is an experience! Because street food isn’t just food! Every single street specialty of Palermo will tell you a story, a legend, or the entire history of Mediterranean civilization. Here is a list of the best 5 street food specialties you can’t miss during your stay in Palermo.
Fasten your seat belt, take a bite, and get ready to travel straight to the past! You are traveling all the way back to the tenth century. Welcome to the Islamic emirate of Sicily! The Arancina, whose name comes from the fruit “arancia” (orange), is a crunchy golden rice ball stuffed with minced meat and peas. It was brought by the Arab colonization in the tenth century. The original recipe is now cooked only in Palermo and its surroundings. You can find another variety of arancina stuffed with “ragù”, (minced meat cooked in tomato sauce) in Catania and Messina. This variety is also known as “arancinO”, male version of the original “arancinA”. Arancina must be eaten at room temperature, never hot!
This is one of the most shocking street foods for tourists. I also call it the king of Palermitan street food. Simply delicious, with an extraordinary strong taste 😉
It consists of a mix of “meusa” (veal spleen), “polmone” (veal lungs) and “scannaruzzato” (veal throat gristle) boiled, slighlty fried in pork fat and finally served in a soft sandwich called “vastedda”. It’s sold by street vendors called “meusari” in the alleys of the city center. Pane ca meusa: you either love it or you hate it…nothing in between.
We have two varieties: single (with lemon) and married (with ricotta cheese). It must be eaten hot.
Sfincione (from latin: spongiam, “sponge”)
The sfincione is a very soft dough pizza sold in the streets of Palermo by the “sfincionari”. Sfincione are very thick and soft, coloured with red tomato sauce and minced onion. This is the street food specialty that tourists usually like the most, and I’ll tell you why they are so beloved. The sfincione has the ability to capture your heart before delighting your palate. The delicate taste of the sauce and the pleasant mildness of the dough are simply unique. We also have a homemade variety with an additional flavor given by anchovies and caciocavallo cheese. Sfincione are best enjoyed at room temperature.
Before revealing to you what you get when you order stigghiole, I need to emphasize one important aspect of this amazing street food.
I love stigghiole for one main reason: the irresistible smell of the smoky barbecue coincides exactly with the irresistible taste that you feel in your mouth when you take the first bite.
Now…what’s stigghiole? Stigghiole is veal intestine wrapped around a barbecue stick. Stigghiole are grilled, salted and served in a plate with a slice of lemon. Drops of fresh lemon juice lessens the intensity of the taste of raw meat. Stigghiole must be eaten hot.
Pane e Panelle
Panelle are square shaped chickpea and parsley fritters, fried and served in a sandwich.
Pane e Panelle (sandwich with panelle) is the main snack consumed by students during the half day break at school. Every school has its own renowned “panellaro” waiting outside and ready to fry and quickly wrap as many sandwiches as he can before the school bell rings again! Pane e panelle often has a welcome friend: cazzilli. Cazzilli are mashed potato croquettes with parsley and mint. Pane, panelle e cazzilli…what a team!
by Marco Romeo
all photos credit to: Marco Romeo: StrEat Palermo Tours
Here’s Marco’s memory about his grandmother and the bread vendor, written in Italian and in Palermitano.
“MARCO! CALACI U PANARU O FURNARO!”. Passavo pomeriggi interi dalla nonna Anna in attesa che mi convocasse per la calata del panaro. Tra le losanghe in ferro battuto, dall’alto di quel terzo piano di via Marco Polo, vedevo sbracciare il sig. Furnaru, un pupazzone bianco farina che dirigeva la calata “vai vai vai vai…SSSSSSSTOP!”. Io, in puntissima di piedi, lo osservavo maneggiare il cesto con ingegnieristica cura, perché attenzione signori! Il peso andava distribuito bene! Bastava una mafaldina messa male e alla prima tirata BRUUUM! U panuzzu ntierra! E poi va siantila a me nonna!
Parte la salita del panaro.
e la nonna Anna? “Mi scuiddavu i broscine! CALATICCILLU ARRIARI!”