We saw them first in the market, boxes full of small brown and white snails, though no-one seemed to be buying. Then we saw what happens to them - a street stall in la Kalsa, copper cauldrons bubbling away on portable gas burners, full of snails cooking before being marinated in oil, parsley, garlic and pepper to be sold in paper cornets. Known as babbaluci they're a popular street snack here in La Kalsa. The old fellow sitting at one of the stall's small pavement tables was tucking in with gusto - we gave them a miss.
Not only a name of a...
Not only a name of a restaurant, but few specialties Caponata, a tasty salad made with eggplant (aubergines), olives, capers and celery, makes a great appetizer. There is also an artichoke-based version of this traditional dish, though you're less likely to find it in most restaurants. Sfincione is a local form of pizza made with tomatoes, onions and (sometimes) anchovies. Prepared on a thick bread and more likely found in a bakery than in a pizzeria, sfincione is good as a snack or appetizer.
Panella is a thin paste made of crushed or powdered ceci (garbanzo) beans and served fried. Maccu is a creamy soup made from the same bean. Crocché (croquet) are fried potato dumplings made with cheese, parsley and eggs. Arancini are fried rice balls stuffed with meat or cheese.
Sicily is renowned for its seafood. Grilled swordfish is popular. Smaller fish, especially snapper, is sometimes prepared in a vinegar and sugar sauce. Seppia (cuttlefish) is served in its own black sauce with pasta. Another Sicilian seafood dish made with pasta is finnochio con sarde (fennel with sardines).
Meat dishes are always popular. Many are traditionally made with lamb or goat. Best known outside Sicily is vitello alla marsala (veal marsala), one of many regional meat specialties. Chicken 'alla marsala' can be prepared using a similar recipe and method. Milza (veal spleen) sandwiches are a bit 'native' for most tastes, and loaded with cholesterol, but delicious anyway.
Sicilian desserts are superlative. Cannoli are tubular crusts with creamy ricotta and sugar filling. If they taste a little different from the ones you've had outside Italy, that's because the ricotta here is made from sheep's milk. Cassata is a rich, sugary cake filled with the same delicious filling. Frutta di Martorana (or pasta reale) are almond marzipan pastries colored and shaped to resemble real fruit. Sicilian gelato (ice cream) is excellent. In fact, it is possible that ice cream was invented in Sicily during Roman times, when a relay of runners would bring snow down from Mount Etna to be flavored and served to wealthy patricians. You'll find flavors ranging from pistachio and hazelnut (nocciola) to jasmine (gelsomino) to mulberry (gelsi) to strawberry (fragala) and rum (zuppa inglese). Granita is sweetened crushed ice made in Summer and flavored with lemons or strawberries.
THE OLD MARKETS
THE OLD MARKETS
Opening hours: Weekdays from the earl morning to the evening; closed on holidays.
In Caracciolo square and neighbours, its name comes from the french word 'boucherie' that means butcher's market, but you can find everything: fresh fish, food stuffs, fruits & vegetables, clothes, etc.
All these things are displayed on stalls or hung in front of the stores giving the atmosfere of arabic suk.
It develops between Sant'agostino street and Porta Carini; you can find everything like Vucciria market : goods, wearing (even used clothes), useful objets for the house.
It covers the old quarter of Albergheria from Carmine square to Ballarò square. Even here you can find everything you need.
It is near the omonimous square of Casa Professa. There are new and used clothes, materials and all kind of used things.
It is next to Borsa Square, its name cames from the arabic word 'Suk-el-attarin' it means groceries'market but even in this case it is not only for groceries. Today you can find canvas and ropes, wholesales of wool and cotton for embrodery, underwear, socks, handkerchief, military clothes for hiking, leather jackets, rubber boots, military boots, sailor jumpers and knitwear.
MERCATO DELLE PULCI
Flee market. Antiques and local modern objets. Open weekdays from morning until afternoon. Holidays half a day.
Palermo is quite a large city and I found that entertainment and culture are centred around two long streets, Via Roma and Via Maquela. There is a huge amount to see but if pushed for time I would recommend a walk up Via maquela from the train station, taking in Piazza praetoria and bellini and then a walk up Corso Victore Emmanuelle to the cathedral and palaces. During my last visit in late October the Sirocco was in town and it as quite hot - circa 30 deg C. Of course, you'll have to become accustomed to the scooters which appear everywhere at all times and the anarchic disrespect of drivers for traffic lights.
The city has a unique character, even by Italian standards. The bazaars around Via Maquela give it a very North African atmosphere whilst other areas have a more Neapolitan feel. There is so much to do that the best idea is to wander around the streets and you'll be entranced by the number of workshops and artisans from puppeteers to furniture makers. The people are friendly and I never felt threatened walking in any part of the town. also, take the opportunity to take in a football match. The ground is circa 3 miles along Via Maquela and allow yourself lots of time to get there as there is only one bus from the centre on match days to a ground which 30,000 people. In particular, I would urge U.S. citizens to try this because teh Italians are so passionate about the game and to expereince the atmosphere is to get a sense of Italian life.
Visit Piazza Bellini and Praetoria, particularly the old churches. I attended a service in one and found it to be an uplifting experience. Also look out fo reven services and organ recitals in the major churches. These can take place quite late in the evening and are well attended by the locals. The cathedral and palaces are worth seeing but the highlight for me was the Archeological museum near Via cavour.