A walk around the warm, sun-baked streets of Palermo and Sicily’s favourite street food is truly a feast for the senses.
Over the centuries, this Sicilian town has played host to the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, and Austrians to name but a few, and each has left an indelible mark on the local cuisine. Heady spices mingle with the fresh, ever-present scent of lemons, hot oil spits and an army of local street food traders clamour and jostle for the attention of passing trade.
But today we’re here for one thing. Panelle.
Said to have originated from Arab travellers, these thin, golden chickpea flour fritters are enjoyed fresh from the frying pan and are beloved by Sicilians and visitors alike.
The Pannellaro, (the local name for Panelle maker) checks his oil is hot with a few drops of lemon juice, before dropping the expectant squares into the pan. Moments later they are lifted out and sandwiched in the soft welcoming embrace of mafalde, a local bread. A squeeze of fresh lemon and he’s done. It tastes every bit as delicious as you imagine.
It is easy to understand how this food of the “cucina povera”, or “poor man’s kitchen” quickly became the favoured snack of Sicilians from all walks of life. The Pannellaro became a legendary figure, as working people, nobles, intellectuals, artists and thieves gathered around his frying pans to savour this humble snack.
This summer we’re bringing our own twist on Panelle back to Britain. Crispy, rich chickpea fritters encased in a soft, potato roll and topped with a fragrant chilli and garlic relish and zingy pickled lemon.
We hope that this humble Sicilian street food delights and unites people here, just as it has always done. And perhaps acts as a timely reminder that sometimes the greatest pleasures in life are the simplest. Good food, good company… good times.
The Panelle Roll joins our new menu of summer sandwiches. Explore the whole range here.