When I was just a teenager in Ohio, Pizza Hut brought out its stuffed crust pizza. A revelation! It made… so much sense! Stuff the crust of the pizza with cheese! For the next week, I couldn’t sleep and talked of nothing else. How could no one have thought of this before?
When you sit down in a small, family-run trattoria in Palermo, something like Trattoria Family Michele & Iolanda, expect to have the freedom of choice snatched away from you. You’ll enjoy whatever plate you’re given to eat, but you won’t have much say in what that plate is.
Palermo’s football team plays in the top flight of one of the world’s best leagues, Italy’s Serie A. In the last few years, U.S. Città di Palermo has become one of the more feared sides in the country. This season, they had won all five games at home, in the Stadio Renzo Barbera. We went to a Sunday afternoon match against Fiorentina to see if they could continue the streak.
Apparently, cilantro isn’t an herb much used in Sicilian cooking. The stand in the Vucciria Market had piles of basil, sage and oregano, but the seller had never heard of cilantro. Still, he was determined to help me out, and asked if I would recognize it by sight. “I think so, probably”. Producing herb after herb from the back of his store, he held out branches for me to sniff and inspect.
On the streets of Palermo, the only things which stick out more than the ancient palaces are big Sicilian bellies. The sight of obese men puttering around on Vespas is a daily amusement, and even many of the toddlers have a few pounds on me. Of course, it’s all perfectly understandable. Along with pizza, pasta and ice cream, Sicilians turn out to be masters of fried food.