Tag Archives: Palermo street food


Ingredients for making cazzilli and cooked Marlin potatoes


In Sicily, these are one of the common dishes of the cucina popolare — popular food or street food. The cazzilli are fried in vats of hot olive oil and sold in the streets, usually in the evenings; they are wrapped in a little grease proof paper. When cooking these at home, I use a non-stick fry pan and shallow fry them. They can be eaten as a contorno (side dish to accompany the main) or as an antipasto.

This blog follows the previous blog about eating cazzilli at Bar Idda.  Sicilians have a fascination with body parts. Cazzo is slang for penis and the word is most often used as a swear word. Cazzilli are little penises.

Italians boil potatoes whole and unpeeled to prevent them from becoming soggy and then peel them once cool.

potatoes, 700g
garlic, 2 cloves
parsley, ½ cup cut finely
eggs, 2 lightly beaten,
fine breadcrumbs or a little flour, to coat the croquettes
extra virgin olive oil, as needed
salt and freshly ground pepper
Cook the potatoes until soft.
Peel the potatoes when cool enough to handle. Use a ricer or a mouli to mash them (these kitchen implements prevent lumps).
Add the parsley, seasoning and the eggs.
Shape the mixture into egg-shape patties and just before frying roll them in breadcrumbs or flour,
Fry until golden and only turn once.
Drain on absorbent paper.

I made the cazzilli with a new potato on the market called Marlin potatoes. Interestingly  some speculation about their name (Marlin potatoes) and machine guns.

There was a machine gun developed between 1891 and 1895. It was known as a “potato digger” for its peculiar down-swinging arm driven by a gas piston – it has a very powerful action and if fired over the ground it has the ability to lift clods of earth.

There are machine guns developed by the Marlin-Rockwell Company around 1918 called Marlin “potato digger” and several others developed by other companies after this. The name Marlin “potato digger”  was retained.



PANELLE, PALERMO STREET FOOD-Chick pea fritters and the Antica Focacceria San Francesco

These photos were sent to me by one of my readers who lives in Philadelphia (it is very generous of her). They are shots of the small piazetta (small square) in front of the very famous and very old,  Antica Focacceria San Francesco in Palermo.


Antica (old), Focacceria (where they sell focaccie) and San Francesco because it is opposite the church by that name. The eatery is famous for presenting traditional, local, street food – Palermo is recognised for this very ancient custom.

All around the streets of Palermo there are frigittorie (friggere is to fry, frigittorie (are where the foods are fried). Palermitani can be seen standing around eating and talking around these establishments which are usually just  no more than large vats of hot oil and a simple portable bench. Slices of eggplant, zucchini, artichokes, bits of pre cooked cauliflower are coated with pastella (batter) and deep fried. Cazzili (potato croquettes) pani ca’ muesa (panini stuffed with spleen) and sfinciuni (typical focaccie from Palermo) are also favourite street food.

In this small eatery, in the old part of town, in the warm months customers can enjoy their food in the piazzetta. I love the cart, much more decorated than can be seen in the streets (although the food, may not always be as good).

In Palermo, one street food specialties are panelle – made of chickpea flour, cooked like polenta or porridge, cooled, and then cut into slices and fried in olive oil.

Versions of chickpea flour fritters are also popular in Liguria and in the South of France. In Australia the flour is generally available in Indian and Middle- eastern stores.

chickpea flour 200g,
water 3 ½ – 4 cups,
salt 1 teaspoon,
½ cup of chopped parsley (or wild fennel fronds)
extra-virgin olive oil,
½ cup for the mixture and more for frying
Make a batter: mix 3½ cups water, salt, and the olive oil into the saucepan and gradually whisk in the chickpea flour until smooth. Add extra water if necessary – it should be the thickness of a batter.
Cook it over medium heat, stir constantly and continue to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan until the mixture is thick and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan (15 mins).
Pour the mixture into the oiled shallow pan (like a baking tin). Press it down and make it smooth on top. Rest it until it is completely cool and firm.
Cut into manageable pieces (large fingers) with a sharp knife, lift the cut pieces carefully and fry in very hot oil. Fry about 3 minutes on each side.
Drain on paper towels and serve warm.
Photo of panelle not from Antica Focacceria