We were walking along via Roma when suddenly my friend Berenice stopped suddenly:
– Since we’re here, why don’t we go to the Vucciria and eat some boiled octopus?
I immediately said yes. I’m crazy about boiled octopus.
One of the places in Palermo where they cook it to perfection is at the Vucciria market.
Describing the Vucciria market is not easy, it is a fantastic place.
Noises, smells and flavours mix together and spread in the air, slowly hovering like butterflies in love.
It is no coincidence that it was immortalized in the paintings of the great Renato Guttuso.
Many stalls display a large quantity and variety of fresh fish that is praised (vaunted) at the top of their lungs.
At the Vucciria in addition to the stalls there are tiny shops populated by artisans who seem to have stopped time with their works.
As we walked to reach our friend’s octopus stall, we were distracted by a strong and pleasant smell.
– Do you smell this perfume too?
– Sure, I’m passing out.
Not even time to add a sigh and behind us we heard the hoarse voice of the sfincionaro (sfincione seller).
The sfincione is the prince of Palermo gastronomy, the street food par excellence. Its paternity can be attributed to the Greeks spòngos, the Latins spongia and the Arabs isfang.
The real sfincione can only be tasted in Palermo in the bakeries, delicatessens and characteristic carts found in the corners of the markets.
It is a bread-pizza sweetened with honey and covered with a sauce of tomato, onion, oregano and a few pieces of the famous Ragusa caciocavallo.
Very quickly Berenice turned to the sfincionaro.
– Give me two pieces please.
I looked at her astonished, but I didn’t even have time to whisper because I found myself in front of an inviting sfincionello (piece of sfincionare). Although we were already full, we enjoyed it with pleasure.
Our lips smeared with sauce were a clear proof of enjoying this food,simple but loved by all Sicilians.
We continued our walk, we didn’t eat the boiled octopus, we bought it and took it home.
Ballarò and Vucciria live on colours, smells, tastes and sounds and manage to drag you into a distant world that returns to the everyday life of uses and customs.
Visiting the markets of Palermo is a journey to distant lands, joy for the spirit and satisfaction for the palate.