Saturday, April 9, 2016

Capo market sprawls across whole neighbourhood

Our morning started out with a visit to the stunning Capo Market. It was a large, rambling affair where vendors sell produce, meat, and fish. Butcher shops display the skinned heads of recently slaughtered animals in the manner of North African and Middle Eastern bazaars; fish are stiff with rigor; produce is ripe and local.

My favourite was the huge heads, complete with swords, of the swordfish standing upright. All the Mediterranean fish, sea bream and dorado looked like they had just been pulled out of the water. The fruit and vegetables were beautifully displayed with loads of artichokes selling for ten cents apiece, zucchini flowers, long, winding pale zucchinis, eggplants and every kind of lettuce imaginable. Oranges, including lots of blood oranges and strawberries were sold at every stall. What a magnificent place.

This was the spot to sample some of the street food. We saw men with wicker baskets draped with fabric to keep their contents warm-ish and relatively fly-free. People walked up to the basket man and order frittola, a sandwich made with the meat bits (cartilage, fat and tendons, too) he plucked from his container and stuffs into a roll. If you are watching your carbs, you can get the chunks in a paper cone. Another favourite street food is sliced sesame seed rolls filled with slices of spleen cooked in lard. Needless to say we gave these particular foods a miss.

There were lots of other street foods including fish and vegetables cooked in batter and Arancini, which are stuffed rice balls, coated with breadcrumbs, which are fried. They are usually filled with rag├╣, a meat and tomato sauce, mozzarella, and peas. There are a number of regional variants that differ in fillings and shape. One little take-away cafe had every kind of stuffing imaginable.The name derives from their shape and color, which is reminiscent of an orange. They are said to have originated during the tenth century Arab rule. Delicious.

In Italian literature, Inspector Montalbano, the main character of Andrea Camilleri's detective novels, is a well-known lover of arancini, which has helped to popularize them all over the world.

By the time we had finished wandering through the food market and giving the tacky clothing market a quick look we were in need of some refreshment. Since it was hot and very humid we stopped for a granita, which was originally a Sicilian drink made of sugar, shaved ice and in our case blood orange juice, one of my favourite things. Perfetto.

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