A delightful stall in la Vucciria market, Palermo. If you look at the range of goodies above you’ll see the tantalising jars of pesto including, to the right of the photo, the pesto di finocchietto (only 4 euros!)
I bought a jar of course. Some pesto Palermitano and pesto Etna too. But the fennel pesto was the best of the lot.
The Vucciria market runs south along a tiny road parallel to Via Roma and finishes in Piazza Caracciolo. I was told to be wary if I went there and probably better if I didn’t go at all, but what could possibly happen to me in a crowded casbah-style market? With my bag, containing just 25 euros, tied crossways and tucked inside a voluminous shawl, I was ready to face anything. It was almost disappointing to find my excursion as risk-free as the Queen Victoria Market at home.
I was looking for an experience similar to the scene from Guttuso.
No such luck.
I didn’t find much food either but instead a wonderful jumble of knock-off handbags, leather jackets, lace tablecloths, wooden carvings, buckets, CDs, toys, wall-hangings, hats, holy figurines, dried nuts, gorgeous crockery and plastic plates. Lots of plastic plates. Much as I enjoyed these seemingly-haphazard displays, my heart leaped when I spotted the display of jam, sauce and pesto.
When I finally reached the food section, I’d arrived in another market.
The Capo Market somehow blends with the Vucciria, or else I missed a turning. It’s easy to miss a turning when the little lanes wind around in loops but the secret in these ancient labyrinthine alleys is to follow your nose.
- 1 cup fennel fronds
- 2 teaspoons almonds, roasted and chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1/4 tsp salt
- good pinch chilli flakes
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- about 1/4 cup olive oil
- Put everything in a processor /blender and blitz until you get a paste.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go
- Serve with pasto or use as a dip. Store in fridge for up to 3 days. Freeze for 2 weeks