One of the most important items in the life of the Italians is their passion for food…at any time of the day.
So we find freshly prepared food not only at home, in restaurants and trattorias but also in the markets stalls, little “fast food”-shops and along the town alleys. The choice is extremely wide, varies from region to region and is influenced by the different dominations, the same as architecture or art.
The favourite Sicilian snack are the Arancini, fried rice balls with different fillings. We can note the Arab influence in the Panelle, little fritters made from chick pea flour and eaten usually in soft bun with sesame seeds. The sfincione, a sort of pizza topped with several ingredients can be found with different names all over the south of Italy. Typical for the country side is the pane cunzato, peasant’s bread, cut in two and stuffed with tomatoes, cheese, olive oil, oregano and added at your choice with onions, tuna, anchovies, etc. In the urban version the bread is filled instead with various other ingredients: famous for Palermo pani ca’ meusa, i.e. filled with spleen, lung and cartilage of calf, boiled and fried and then added either with fresh lemon juice or ricotta or caciocavallo cheese. Or in alternative stigghiole, casings of lamb, goat or beef wrapped in spirals around slices of bacon a sprigs of parsley, seasoned with salt and lemon and roasted on charcoal – the scent will guide you!
Also Apulia offers many of these particular tastes. Some similar like the always present Focaccia, pizza bread with the local variation of Pizza fritta – fried pizza, folded and filled with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese and then fried in boiling oil. Very appreciated also the Bombette, “little bombs”, small grilled pork rolls filled with bacon and caciocavallo cheese. Or Pezzetti, little pieces of horse meat cooked for hours in tomato sauce served in a bun maybe topped with fried red, green or yellow peppers. Also fish lovers have their option, a sort of local fish and chips, a bag full of fried small local fish depending on the catch of the day together with a choice of seasonal fried vegetables – a crisp delicacy!
It’s not difficult to locate the kiosks of the street vendors, both for the scent that fill the air and the small crowd that forms around. Just stop and have a try. Even if some of the specialties seem to be made for strong palates, you might be surprised by the excellent taste.