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

> raucous, but it's peaceful.

An Italian friend of mine contends that the loud, no personal space, over-the-top portion of Italy stretches from Rome to Naples. It has certainly been my experience that Sicily and Sicilians come across as calmer and quieter (and more dignified, if you ask me) than their more northerly southern cousins.

Are we sure Skip Gates had been visiting China?

Are you going to any of the smaller villages around Palermo?

"The young people look like they're from Rome,
the old people look like they're from New
Jersey." That is good and hits more than one
nail on the head.

My Sicilian mother and her family would agree with David N. Welton. On the other hand my brother used to call my Sicilian cousins (who had lived in Italy for a long time) the loud family.

But aren't we Americans supposed to be the loudest and most obnoxious people in he world?

You left out one very important influence in Sicilia, although it is less present in Palermo, but very strong elsewhere and
a crucial part of the underpinning of the curious cultural mixture there, certainly manifested in the cuisine: Greek.

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