STREET FOOD SAFARI IN SICILY: THE BIG FIVE
Get a flight first. Mark a date in your calendar, that’s the seven day fasten start you need before landing in Sicily. Pick a destination airport, either Palermo or Catania, there is no way you can escape your sicilian calories.
To survive the sicilian street food safari you need: light breakfast, comfy shoes, a couple of sentence in Sicilian language and a veteran belly.
It’s easy to catch your preys, you just need your hands but watch out! Just like it happens in African in savannahs, you need a local guide to guide you or you might…get killed.
Here are the “big five” street food you cannot miss on your Sicilian food safari.
THE CIPOLLINA (baked doug stuffed with mozzarella, tomato and spring onion)
The cipollina is a Catanese safari food, it daily arises in so called “rosticcerie” (tr. delis) where the cipollina herd silently rest. Born and dead in the very same day. The average lifetime of a Cipollina is about 5 minute. It fights with all its energies against locals’ jaws trying to burn their palate by spitting hot steem…but it’s a lost battle. Locals’ bites torn the cipollina apart voraciously, finally it drowns in the cold rapids of Castello beer.
What kind of street food species is a Cipollina? It belongs to the category of rosticceria.
A warm soft doug covered by a crunchy veil. The fragrance is indescribable, the filling is: mozzarella cheese, spring onion and a little bit of tomato, this is the most delicate, the white tiger of sicilian food safari. Indeed, most of cipollinas have a muscled ham layer.
All cipollinas are equal but one is more equal than the others. You wanna know where to hunt it? Join Streaty 😉
THE VASTEDDA CA’ MEUSA (veal lung and spleen sandwich)
Prey or predator? Just remeber, never go on vastedda hunting on your own. Pick the wrong stall and it will kill you. The vastedda ca meusa has got an invincible defensive weapon, the lard. Leave it cool down in the lard and warm it up again, pure poison. Surviving in the wild savannah of Palermo city center isn’t easy for any street food, gluttenous nature demands basing surviving skills.
Born in a 31 inch wide iron pot, its warm nest. The vastedda dies at a couple of steps away from it.
A rounded crunchy loaf (locally called vastedda) maternally protects veal lung and spleen in its belly. Palermitan predators never sleep. As soon as the screaming tweet of a new born spleen sandwich is born, local raptors dive into it and devour it.
Fine peaks mash the guts with fresh ricotta. Day and night. No Mercy.
Best spots where to find vastedda? Vucciria-Castellammare district, Palermo.
STIGGHIOLA (veal, lamb or goat intestine rolled around spring onion)
Sicilia foodie owls love it. The white soul released from the guts of stigghiola is an irresistible call for bbq geeks.
Start a fire, warm up the grill, pour some cold beer, hold firmly the salt jar, look at the orizon and wait…liten carefully, you will feel the flaps’ echo. Foodie owls are warming up, stretching their wings, sharpening their nails.
Tshhhhhhhhhh! The veal intestine is on fire, it chokes a spring onion in a “bad love” hug.
The white cloud is up. The acren smell is on. Sicilian owls are standing in front of the barbecue, staring at the stigghiola suffering on the fire, rolled on a side, then on the other, and on the other again. The stigghiola is ready to be cut, flavoured with salt and served with a slice of lemmon. Some Sicilian makes it scream squeezing some acid drop on it, others kill it in a sandwich.
You dont need weapons to hunt this, your fingers are more than enough.
ARANCINA/ARANCINO (rice ball stuffed with minced veal)
This is the real challenge for all foodie hunters coming to Sicily for a tasty safari.
Among the big five food to hunt, the Arancina is the big one.
The challenge isn’t just about find and catch the best one, but it’s also about trying both shapes and flavours. You need a car, you need to move around the island.
The Arancina lives in the west side of Sicily, a silent female street food, the hyppo of fried oil. It floats keeping his head our of the surface and spying the other companions in the hot pond.
The western Arancina is rounded, an obese fried rice ball with a hard crunchy skin to be bit without hesitation. What’s inside? thousand years of Sicilian food evolution! Minced veal, peas, carrot, onion…pure orgasm! Yes, Sicilian oil hyppo is kind of sexy.
The eastern Arancino took some step ahead in the evolution by filling its belly with tomato sauce and shreded veal. Cubes of mozzarella lives inside of like parasites, protected by the crunchy breadcrumbs vest. The eastern specie has got a different shape, more like a pine cone.
The natural habitat of both Arancina and Arancino is the Friggitoria (tr. fried food deli) but it often dies far away from it. The street food specie needs a little rest after popping out of the frying pan.
When you go hunting arancinas, watch out how you behave, a wrong move can lead you to death.
Call it Arancina in the west, call it Arancino in the east. Say it worng and you are dead.
Do not ask too many questions, just do what Streaty says. Top arancinas in Palermo and Catania? Join Streaty 😉 this is why we exist.
PANE E PANELLE
Food evolution never ends. Once a fish (tr.pisci-panella), now a land beast.
It was, it is, it will always be the queen of Palermitan street food. A very common urban specie, easy to spot easy to catch, easy to eat…but not very easy to understand whether is the right prey at a first sight. They all look elegant, charming but be quiet, panelles are very shy. Take it off the oil carefully, do not talk or it will loose all its tense, do not cover it or it will deflate its outer layer. Have a foodie hunter watch your back. Be silent, lay it gently down on a warm semprefresco topped with sesame. Close your eyes, ignore panelle’s last breath, swallow all your doubts and abandone yourself into it. A Palermitan urban legend says that the perfect panella exists but nobody ever seen it. One day the perfect panella will float down from heaven. The perfectness of its shape and its thickness will save the world. Wanna get closer to perfection? Join Streaty 🙂