Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
For our last full day in Catania before heading north, we didn’t want to miss the famous fish markets.
Before entering the markets we realised that we needed toilets so we walked into the main square and headed directly to the famous Nonna Vincenza café. Canoli are typical to Palermo but not Catania. I didn’t realise that because they are just called Sicilian in northern Italy. Anyway, I didn’t want to leave Sicily without trying good canoli.
While we ordered a Catanese man and separate woman both insisted on pushing in front of us. Amazingly the man behind the bar continued to serve us even when the woman claimed she was in a hurry (later she sat and leisurely drank her coffee and ate canoli and I was glad that I’d been served before her (although the canoli are so good that maybe she was in a hurry to eat them?). Pushing in is systematic and endemic in Sicily and it offends my Australian sensibilities. In general Australians are very orderly in queues and usually intolerant of ‘queue-jumping’.
Anyway, the pistachio with ricotta canolo was wonderful. The orange peel with white cream canolo was nowhere near as good but I’m sure that people with a sweeter tooth than me would love it. By the way, as you can see, we’ve taken a break from our normally low sugar and wheat diet. It doesn’t make sense in Sicily…
The abundance and variety of sea creatures for sale left us wondering if there was anything still in the sea. The bivalves that were still alive squirted is with water as we walked past. Many stall holders sold tiny bivalves and had kilograms of them each. I wonder if it’s sustainable. I also wonder how it can be rewarding to prepare and eat such tiny creatures.
The most awe-inspiring creatures are the enormous swordfish. When cooked with care and still fresh this is my g favourite fish. Unfortunately most tourist trap restaurants (you know what I mean) don’t defrost it properly and overcook it making it unpalatable. Also because fishing practices for swordfish are not sustainable.
I watched the local women, middle-aged and elderly buying their seafood. Some of the vendors (all male) tried to charm them with that irresistible Sicilian charm but the women ignored then entirely and definitely did resist their charm. I saw the same thing at the roadside fruit stalls. It’s only natural that Sicilian women have developed a natural defense to the manipulations of their men.
Aside from the seafood stalls there were cheese stalls selling the usual European cheeses like Emmenthal but also wonderful Sicily cheeses like salted ricotta.
Next came the wonderful fruit and vegetable stalls. I could rave all day about the super-abundance and variety of delicious fresh produce in Sicily. It wasn’t fair passing through these stalls without buying anything.