Finger food is trendy. Slow food is trendy. In Sicily you can enjoy the best of both worlds on the streets, where it is not uncommon to see people eating while walking, shopping and even talking about business.
Street dishes are usually fried or prepared on a charcoal grill, and are either taken away from the outdoor food stalls or eaten on the spot. This tradition is two thousand years old, when the Greek civilization already enjoyed fast food and takeaways on the island.
Here are some of the most characteristic street dishes that you can taste in ancient markets, along alleys and in small squares all around Sicily! If you want to enjoy them like the locals do, feel free to eat them with your hands!
Arancine – Invented by the Saracens, this delicacy is more than a thousand years old. The ball-shaped dish is stuffed with saffron-flavored rice, green peas and meat sauce.
Babbaluci – Eating these snails requires some savoir-faire, but any Sicilian will be delighted to teach you how to enjoy them! Basically, you have to create a small hole on the shell with a canine tooth, and then suck the snail out. Babbaluci are seasoned with lightly fried garlic and parsley or tomato sauce with onion and pepper.
Bread with spleen – Typical of Palermo, this sandwich is made of fried beef spleen. Tradition has it that it became popular thanks to the city’s Jewish community around the 2nd century.
Cucuzza – A great summer freshener, this increasingly rare pumpkin is eaten boiled, cold with salt.
Panelle – These are flat fried cakes made from chickpea polenta. They are fried before you, then dusted with salt and usually covered with sesame seeds.
Polpo bollito – The stewed octopus was introduced as street food after the Second World War. Sea villages are the best places where to enjoy them, along with some ricci di mare (sea urchins) opened with a sharp knock of a knife.
Pullanca – A simple but delicious boiled corncob, usually sold hot.
Sfincionello – It might look like pizza but has nothing to do with it: this spongy flour dough is enriched with caciocavallo cheese, sardines, tomato sauce, onion and olive oil. It was invented by the nuns of a convent in Palermo in the mid 18th century.
Stigghiola – Sicilians love this snack for their five o’clock break or in the evening for an aperitivo. It consists of roasted sheep or goat intestines cooked on a skewer, rolled up with parsley or green onion, around a piece of heart, liver, kidney or lung.
Zuzzu – Typical of Catania and the eastern coast, it consists of pork head in a gelatine coating.
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