There is a special atmosphere in the ancient Sicilian markets: you see people talking and negotiating as immersed in a world that looks like a theatre. Our Sicily gourmet tour takes in the street food of Sicily, including the markets, and visits to some of the unique farmers of this Italian island.
In many places of the Island there are still the typical suks (Arab Markets) which highlight the Arab roots of Sicilian culture. You can recognize them by the way of arranging fruits, especially oranges, and dry fruits, but also the wide variety of exotic species and spices – coming from the near or far East – and olives, with their incredible variety.
Big swordfishes, stone basses, sea bream, mussels and clams, octopus and other crustaceans display on the market’s stands. Blue-fish abounds among sardines , mackerels, long silver paddle-fishes and caponi. And shrimps of all kind from the big red ones of Mazara del Vallo to the smaller ones, often already cleaned and peeled. Let’s discover the timeless charm of Via Consultore Benintende in the historical centre of Caltanissetta ; colourful and scented, this street has hosted the historic Market Strat’â Foglia since the end of the eighteenth century.
From Piazza Mercato Grazia to Via Berengario Gaetani, the whole Via Consultore Benintende is a parade of vendor’s stands full of fruits and vegetables, cheese, legumes and various objects. Bakeries, butchers, fishmongers, and even exotic food shops, enrich the market. The characteristic open-air markets where you can eat a bit ‘of everything, such as the typical Street Food, are widespread – today more than ever – throughout Palermo, especially in neighborhoods on the edge of the great historical markets: Vucciria, Capo, Ballarò (perhaps the most multi-ethnic corner of the city) and Borgo Vecchio.
Sicilian blood oranges, cultivated exclusively in the Piana di Catania and in some villages in the area of Enna and Siracusa, are unique in the world for their taste and their nutritional value, so much so that they awarded PGI Mark by the European Union and are considered the ultimate healty fruit .
The proximity to the active Etna volcano, a particularly fertile soil and a dry climate with strong thermal excursions, create ideal growing conditions for this extraordinary fruit with its typical red pulp.
In fact, during wintertime, the contrast between Etna snows and the warm sun of the island, makes the thermal excursion reach its acme, causing the growth of a red pigmentation in the fruits. Such pigment contains the anthocyanin, a substance with strong antioxidant and antineoplastic qualities that, together with the high level of vitamin C, makes this orange one of a kind, not comparable to any other production.
Arancino or arancina? The solution to this dilemma is not simple and it has involved fine linguists, passionate cooks and many gourmands for centuries. Despite the dispute, everyone agrees on how good this symbol of Sicilian street food is. Perfectly crispy, with its hot filling, the arancino or arancina – which ever you prefer – is never contested.
This is just a sample of some of the amazing , affordable and abundant local fruit and food from the Markets in Sicily. Consider joining our affordable gourmet tour of Sicily later in the year. Our tours truly explore the Italian Lifestyle by going off the beaten track. I am going to be there for a month in November to thoroughly explore the backroads.
Some photo’s in this post used with permission from Regione Siciliana Tourism.