There isn't much that people care more about than food. It helps define them and is filled with significance, for family and the memories of childhood and of good times with friends. To an outsider, of course, people's attachment to a particular food can seem puzzling. We stopped by a grocer and butcher on the way to Etna to pick up some outstanding sandwiches. While we were waiting, the butcher insisted on sharing one of his (and the region's) specialities.
Outside on the sidewalk, a fire continuously simmered the pork for frittole (pronounced like the snack food brand).
To us, it would best be described as a pork fat sandwich.
Or, a great moment with our guide Davide and a welcoming butcher. In fact, throughout Sicily, we found people to be - with few exceptions - very open and warm. It was not unusual for someone to go out of his or her way to be helpful and friendly.
A note on street food: Yes, glorious street food. That's what frittole is and Sicily has plenty of it. Some other ones we tried were arancina (filled and fried rice balls), panelle (chickpea fritters), crocché (potato croquets) and gelato con brioche (see below). We didn't try the spleen sandwiches, thanks just the same!
One of our most memorable meals was in Selinunte, at a place called Boomerang (for some obscure reason).
Sorry for the half-eaten plate. We decided a little late to document the meal.
It's a place with a fixed menu. Everyone gets the same thing, whatever the owner brought in that day on his fishing boat
The fish just kept coming, with a quick identification.
All of it was perfectly prepared and delicious,
As were the very good cannoli that topped it off. [Our all time favorite cannoli (after substantial sampling across Sicily) remain the ones from Cipolli Cannoli in Collingswood, NJ, where the cannoli kits are created fresh before your eyes in their tiny operation.]
Of course, cannoli aren't the only canonical sweet treat in Sicily. The thing to eat in Palermo is gelato on a brioche. But, gelato all over Sicily is hard to beat, and we seldom resisted.
The gelato in Valletta on Malta (spoiler alert) may be more artistically refined, but the quality in Sicily is unsurpassed.