Welcome to Siciliamo blog, the liveliest weblog on Europe's most fascinating island. Browse though amazing pictures or explore our videos. And don't forget to check our website out!

Friday, 10 August 2007

Palermo Street Food

Palermo Street Food, Cibo di Strada. If you are a foodie with more than just a passing interest in street hawkers (be very careful pronouncing that term in mixed company; just make sure the "w" in Hawker shines through when you tell someone how much you love the street hawkers of a particular place), you may very well think that the culture of delicious and authentic street food is a domain belonging to the Asian cities and towns with their bustling stalls of hawkers selling all types of food cooked in all different sorts of ways. Europe and most other places outside Asia lack the true and authentic culture of "street food". Sicily is the exception.
In many street lanes and alleys, not just in the Centro Storico but also out in the "burbs", you will find street hawkers selling freshly cooked, authentic Sicilian food, often made from secret Sicilian family recipes.

Street Food...Not Junk Food!
During Alice's first time in Sydney she asked me one night while we were out if we could go and buy some street food. While Sydney is a mecca for foodies it is not the first place that you would think of when experiencing a craving for street food. I think Alice realised that by the look on my face after she had asked me this. What I did not know at the time, but soon would upon my first trip to Sicily, is that Street Food in Sicily is another planet! Being halfway between Europe and Africa, and within sight of Asia, Sicily is the ultimate melting pot of culture and race.

The Cultural Melting Pot of Food
Multi-culturalism in Sicily is not something that is a recent phenomenon like say, USA, Australia, Canada or UK, it has been the way of Sicilian life for millenia. With this rich juxtaposition of culture and ethnicity has come an incredible variety of food, dishes, ingredients and styles. There are many food traditions that make Sicily truly great, but for the true food adventurer the most exciting and satisfying one, is that of the street, or the Street Food of Palermo. Be warned though, as those of you are familiar with Asian street food will attest to, Street Food is recommended for the adventurous "foodie" traveller only.
While the ingredients and hygiene are up to standard (the ingredients in Sicily are ALWAYS up to standard), much of this street food uses ingredients and food in quite inventive ways. Let's take Babbaluci, for example, otherwise known as the common snail. You all know how this tastes in France, quite nice usually, but the Sicilian take on this recipe has a great twist; extra virgin olive oil, a touch of garlic, grounded pepper, some wild fennel for flavour and maybe some tomato. They are one of those things that you taste once for curiosity, and before you realise it you have demolished nearly 50 of them! (a small tip: to impress a real Sicilian street hawker, ask for Babalucci and even if they do not have it they will be amazed at how a non Sicilian even knows about this closely guarded Sicilian delicacy).

The Best of the Rest
There are other delights on offer too, Pane Penelle - bite sized snacks made from chickpea flour, Crocche - special fluffy potato filled puff balls, Pollanca - boiled corn (strictly speaking Pollanca is mainly sold on the beach which makes it beach food), Scaccio - very tasty tidbits made up of dried salted pumpkin seeds, chick peas and fresh pistacchios, Cedro (or Pipittuni in Sicilian) - oversized breed of lemon/limes with an edible, sweet skin combined with a slightly sour inside balanced with with a liberal dosage of Trapani Sea Salt for taste (again, mainly found on the beach), Panino con Salsiccia - you have heard of German sausage such at Bratwurst and so on...very tasty...but wait until you try the herbaceous Sicilian sausage, an exotic balance of gentle spice, aniseed with wild fennel flavour supported by a squeeze of fresh Sicilian lemon. Add this delight to a bread roll (a panino), and there you have it, a hot dog that tastes like no other hot dog you have ever tried.

The Stigghiola
There are others too in the Pantheon of Palermo Street Food, such as sfincone (focaccia bread with an onion topping), frittola, pane con la milza, but the Lord of all "Cibo di Strada", and the most representative of the streets of Palermo is a barbecued dish called Stigghiola. Anyone who appreciates the taste of charcoal meat will savour this delight. It first hits you when your nose picks up the scent of something delicious in the air and like a blood hound your whole body points in the direction of the source. Your feet only take you one direction - To the Stigghiola Man! You stand in line (a Stigghiola BBQ stand is never a lonely place) and watch how a typical Sicilian man of the street, who can be better described as an alchemist, manages to turn a string of goat intestines into a dish served on a paper plate that combined with a cold beer makes you wonder if you will ever bother to eat in restaurants again, especially when you can find this on the Streets of Palermo.)


  1. I am going to Sicily in August and cannot wait to eat each and everything on this list!

  2. wow Jennifer - good to meet another motivated foodie. Enjoy, the cedri in August are something else.