Even on my best behavior, I always find it hard to say no to “beautiful” food (will come to this later on). I have an Achilles heel for things that are fried and/or spicy. So it’s quite funny that I didn’t actually realized it until I booked the trip, that Palermo is one of the top cities for street food in the world!
We decided to book a tour with Streaty (and their Facebook page here), which claimed that they’ve been endorsed by the likes of Jamie Oliver and have really good ratings on Trip Advisor and other bloggers (Note: I am not sponsored in any way with them, and the main reason for me writing this is because I want to remember the experience better.)
Meeting point was in front of Teatro Massimo at 10:30 am. We are still in a winter tour mode, which will take 4 hours in total. It was a warm spring day, perfect for such a tour of walking and eating! Our tour guide / friend was Enrika. She’s a Palermitan who is very passionate about food (of course!) and the modern history of Palermo.
The first thing and one of the most important survival skill in Palermo she taught us: How to cross the street! If you haven’t been to Palermo, and you’re not from countries like Indonesia where there’s always a mix of cars, motorcycles, and crazy public transport; plus they don’t really care about street lanes, crossing the street is a survival art. Pay attention, and trust in the divine!
We began the food journey in Mercato il Capo (the Capo market, open daily in the mornings), one of the busiest local farmers market in Palermo. I can’t help but get so mesmerized by the fresh seafood.
And the fresh produce!
I love how they seemed to care so much about food ingredients, creating a relationship with market vendors (you’re not supposed to cheat by going to another fishmonger other than your regular!)
We finally sat down to get the first round of street food, super crunchy yet soft dish of Panelle (the square chickpea fritters) and Cazzili (potato croquettes). Oh my gawd, everything IS ah-mah-zing!! I’d say it would be dangerous for me to live in this city as I would eat this fried stuff everyday.
Then comes the Arancina. Oh dear, these are the best Arancina someone could hope for! It’s fresh, with a light crunchy fried bread crumbs on the outside, perfectly spiced ragu, and that hint of saffron on the rice. So much in LOVE. You’ve got to try this when you’re in Palermo!
Continuing our journey through the market, Enrika talked about more history and cultures of Palermo. One of the things that stood up for me: This church which has a fish shop just kind of inside it.
Next stop we got to try Sfincionello (the one I’m eating in the first image), which kind of like the american pizza from the thick and fluffy dough. I’ve to say I was skeptical, just because my usual experience with such things in Germany involves chewy bread, which I don’t enjoy eating (don’t shoot me on this, it’s just personal preference!). But this Sfincionello is again, crunchy and soft. I could eat this as a snack everyday… why oh why we discover this on the last day!
La Vucciria market is our next destination. This one is kind of in middle of the old town, and it used to be the busiest one in the city, until the city center kind of move away from it. Leaving the market with just a few fish stalls and a buzzing street food place at night (sadly I can’t confirm this because we didn’t have the chance to come back).
The next pit stop is a local taverna where we sit down and eat Schiticchio (it’s basically what I’d call light bar food: bread, olives, and cheese). We also get the choice of having either Sangue, Zibibbo, or Marsala drink. All of them are good, but my favorite from this session is Sangue! Likely it’s also because it means blood… haha, no actually I find them the least sweet of all three and it has a stronger distinct taste.
Our final savory food stop is Pani ca’ Meusa. It’s the dish that everyone seemed to be afraid of :D. Just because it’s made from the insides of veal. The parts used for this are lung and spleen. I don’t usually like them, but I know I have to try this one out. It did not disappoint! It doesn’t use so much spice (basically just lemon and salt) but you can’t really taste the lamb-y-ness. Also the seller is kinda Rocky’s twin brother!
The final food stop is of course the famous Cannolo!
These are divine!
Recommended tour? Most definitely. It lives up to every (high) expectation I have. It’s even better when you can go in the first day of your Palermo trip, because:
- I personally found Palermo is one of a city that needs to get used to, and this tour would definitely makes you at ease.
- You’d have an insight of Palermo’s history, also from a personal point of view.
- Great tips on where to eat and drink in Palermo!
Oh, and about the “beautiful” food, the locals called their food “beautiful” and the women “yummy”. I’m not sure I could get behind the “yummy”, but “beautiful” food it is!