When talking about street food’s good quality, there are basically three aspects: popular tradition, worldwide availability and low cost.
Catania has been on a street food’s map for centuries! In its baroque, among the picturesque streets, lives an ancient gastronomic tradition: from professionals to buskers, from locals to visitors, without distinction of race or religion. Catania’s street food is not only a source of pride but a true moment of social integration. We classified street food into three categories for three different types of the palate: soft, hard, intense.
Soft. Surely the most delicate palates will appreciate Catania’s well-known street food: the so-called “Tavola calda”, a vast variety of tasty local food kept warm at all times. Simply a must! It’s fantastic at any given hour of the day and night (often ending a night out or have an early breakfast) an endless symphony of taste and shapes, it needs more than just a stop by arancini (fried rice balls), cipollina (puff pastry filled with onion), pizzette (little pizzas), bomba, cartocciata, scacciata, siciliana (a type of fried calzone), bolognese! The Catania’s people are very passionate about their Tavola calda and diverse it in too many ways, using their volcanic creativity. There is also a variety of vegetarian choices.
Although the Tavola calda is available in all bars and bakeries, Catania is surely the “city of panini”. Only in the evening, in many angles of the city, but above all between the seaside and the central station, you will find the food-trucks ready to serve delicious sandwiches with infinite combinations of condiments, till the first light of dawn. Try the porchetta (roast pork) sandwich with cheese and dress it up to taste. Bearing in mind that the porchetta, in Catania, is not the classic porchetta “à la romana” (like in Rome), but more like its sausage, cut into fine slices.
Hard. If you are a meat lover, especially the equine one, your place is the old town. The path going from the arches of the port till Plebiscito road, not to mention the area of the Castello Ursino, is stippled with butcher shops and traditional restaurants specialized in the famous “Arrusti e mangia“(grill and eat), basically it’s a way of life. The characteristic smell of fire and the white dense smoke coming out from the restaurants will introduce you to the wonderful world of meat: steaks and tasty horse meatballs on top of the list! Donkey fillets, rolls and veal chops, pork ribs and chops dressed, or better to say “sainted” and blessed with a generous bunch of rosemary dipped in a pinzimonio of olive oil, lemon, vinegar and chili pepper, called salmoriglio. In Catania, the sacred and the profane are inevitably mixed!
Also “cipollata” is absolutely recommended, spring onions wrapped with bacon slices …obviously grilled!
Intense. If you like strong sensations and you are not so emotional, the intense type might have goodness hidden for you. It’s almost extinct, at least in this part of Sicily, the tradition of the sellers of “bisecca and sangeli“, offal and pig’s blood. Many young people talk about it, but only a few have had the guts to taste it. To “cool off” inside the fish market, awaiting for you sea-urchins and shellfish still alive and ready for the “lemon test” and the delicious “mauru” (a kind of seaweed), which back in the day, used to be eaten raw with only a few drops of lemon and salt.
A final category is dedicated to the crispelle, a puff pastry with anchovies and ricotta that follows the same seasonality of the cheese, such as the scacciate (traditional pies) of tuma cheese and other dairy products. Such delicacies are nearly impossible to find during the hot spell!
Enjoy your meal!
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