Palermo notes

I had been expecting "Naples squared" when it comes to raucous, but it's peaceful.  The best dishes apply flavors of mint, orange, and pistachio to pasta and seafood.  Wrapping pumpkin in a fish slice is yummy.  How about sardines pasta, with raisin, pine nuts, and bread crumbs; capers are optional?  Imagine a counterfactual retracing of food history, piling New World ingredients on top of Arabic and medieval roots — without the French culinary interventions of the eighteenth century and beyond — and you get some notion of dining in Sicily.  Imagine Moroccan bistillah but with a fruit jam inside.

The remaining traces of Norman Sicily are mingled with Roman, Arabic and Catalonian architectural influences.  There are numerous seventeenth-century baroque oratorios.  All over you see photocopy shops, which I suppose means few homes or workplaces have printers.

The young people look like they're from Rome, the old people look like they're from New Jersey. 

When there is a traffic dispute, people yell back at the cops. 

At least two-thirds of all restaurants are closed for August, including most of the best-known places.  Yet even random eating in major public squares (usually a no-no) reveals a food culture which has to rank among the world's best, up there with Tokyo, Bangkok, Singapore, Bombay, and the Puebla/Oaxaca axis, among a few select others.


Comments for this post are closed