The meeting between Made in Italy regional cuisine and street food (Part 3)
And here we are at the last stop of this “asphalt” gastronomic route among the best examples of street food in northern and central Italy. In Part 3 we will focus on the culinary goodness of street food in the South and on the islands. Street food is born as a response to the social emergency of food at low prices, and today represents an important source of income for small producers and street vendors. Suffice it to say that according to estimates from 2014 to now, more than 60,000 activities are involved in the Italian Street Food sector, with an annual growth rate of around 15%. Of course, even in the case of street food, you cannot ignore what has distinguished Made in Italy cooking for centuries: the quality raw material. And where to find excellent raw materials if not where the sun, the sea and the natural heritage are the masters?
Street Food Italia: the best street food to taste in the South and in the Islands
“Altamura bread is the best bread in the world”. The first review of the street food of Puglia comes from the authoritative voice of the Latin poet Orazio. This certainty handed down to the present day does not seem to have changed, indeed, to the best bread in the world have been added over time a series of street food known for goodness all over the world.
The rundown of street food from Puglia begins with a typical dish from northern Italy. Or rather, with a dish that is usually associated with Northern Italy: polenta. In fact, just walk through the streets of Old Bari to realize that these thin slices of polenta fried in boiling oil, become a must of street food, are based on an ancient Apulian tradition, which has nothing of Northern. Ms. Maria will explain it to you that in the North, she has never been but she knows how to cook the sgagliozze better than a “polentona” doc.
Bari-style focaccia bread
Typical street food of the capital of Puglia: high and filled with fresh tomatoes, or with anything you deserve to end up delighting our palate.
Fried for those who do not fear the scale, baked in the oven for those are watching their figure. Delicious, fragrant, with a filling based on tomato sauce and mozzarella. Love has a red and warm heart.
Sandwich with bombette
From Cisternino to the conquest of the world: the bombetta is a thin slice of fresh pork cup flavoured with Parmesan, salt and pepper to taste, wrapped in a roll style and cooked on long spits above special wood-burning stoves. The fat runs on the bowls underneath letting you taste all the flavour of what awaits us.
This recipe was born in the Apulian country of Ceglie Messapica, but has become a real fashion in most of the region. A typical street food style sandwich stuffed with mortadella, Torre Colimena tuna, podolico caciocavallo and capers. Very different ingredients that find perfect harmony.BASILICATA
Basilicata exists and proudly claims its culinary tradition made of ancient secular recipes that are now real gems of Italian street food.
One of the typical products of the Lucanian bakeries: a bread made with flour, oil, brewer’s yeast, raisins, sugar, cinnamon and, according to the traditional recipe, also salt, anchovies and pepper. The dough is spread in a quadrangular shape, stuffed (not even to say) and then wrapped in the shape of a donut. A tasty salty donut.
That’s as typical as it gets . This famous example of Lucan street food is at the base of the traditional cuisine of the characteristic Italian region. Even the most sceptical will be conquered by these rolls based on entrails of lamb cooked on the grill. The real challenge is to succeed in pronouncing its name to perfection.
The peasant tradition teaches to make a snack on the return from work in the fields or in the woods. Here the street food tradition is born, made especially of sandwiches with typical local products: pickles, meats and cheeses to be eaten strictly in the open air. Food and nature, perfect combination.
Wheat bread, spicy crushed and caciocavallo
Who does not know the typical Apulian sausage with a crushed shape and a strong, very strong hint of pepper? Excellent to pair with a good caciocavallo made from local milk. All this ends up in a freshly baked sandwich. And enjoy your meal!
If it is not tripe is morzello: the typical specialty of Catanzaro based on veal entrails (rumen, abomasum, reticulum, omasus, esophagus, heart, lung, spleen, perirenal fat) is presented as a very rich soffritto which is then further strengthened by tomato, spicy pepper and spices such as laurel and oregano. The Calabrian tradition suggests eating it right in the form of street food: in the pitta, a characteristic flat bread, with an elongated shape.
Sun, sea, mandolin and food, lots of food. Nothing to do with the trends of nouvelle cousine. When it’s time to eat here you eat, without single portions or dry seasonings. Even street food in Campania tends to exaggerate.
‘O per’ e ‘o muss
For those coming from outside Naples, this is “the foot and the muzzle”. The foot is of pork, the snout is of veal. The selected pieces are cleaned, boiled, cooled and seasoned with a splash of lemon and salt. Recommended only for strong palates and stomachs, those who are not afraid to challenge the street kitchen of the trippai masters.
Here there cannot be a translation. The name is exactly what you will have in your hands. A macro-sized funnel full of delicious fries, typical of the Neapolitan land. From land to sea, everything can be cut, breaded and fried and then completely poured into this cornucopia of flavours: pumpkin flowers (the so-called sciurilli), mozzarella in carriages, shrimps and squid rings. Fryers at every corner of one of the most beautiful cities in the world invite you to leave the diet. “Vieni, viè, vient a piglià o’ cuopp” (means: “Come, come here, take your cuoppo”).
Pizza a portafoglio o a libretto
Down the hat in front of this gem of traditional Neapolitan cuisine. In the alleys the smell of pizza rises at the same hour of the sun thanks to an art, that of the Neapolitan pizza makers, recently entered into the immaterial heritage of humanity, acquiring the title Unesco. Why wallet? It would be more appropriate and tasty to explain it with a practical example, but we will try. Imagine this smaller pizza stuffed with tomato and with a single piece of central fiordilatte that is literally folded into four parts. No, the goal is not to make an origami, but to facilitate consumption on the street, adapting it to the walk. Born for street food, rewarded by tourists.
Fried pizza and montanara
For the series “pizzas”, pizzas everywhere and pizzas of all kinds, to eat on the fly, these two gems of the Campania tradition should also be mentioned. The fried pizza (giant size) should be ordered absolutely complete, with ricotta, tomato, mozzarella, meats and greaves. There are also the lightest variations, but I doubt you want to try its after tasting the one that makes La Figlia del Presidente also ate by Bill Clinton in the ’90s. For those who do not want to exaggerate, however, there is the minor alternative: the montanara, called precisely pizzella fritta. Smaller, softer, without filling, but topped with tomato sauce, Parmesan and sometimes mozzarella. In the “bassi”, typical houses of the Neapolitan alleys, the Neapolitan ladies gladly open their doors to offer them to the passenger, in perfect optical street food.
“To be or not to be?” Asked Hamlet. “Riccia or frolla?” Asks the pastry chef in Naples. Obviously we talk about sfogliatella, one of the most popular street sweets by tourists who crowd the streets of the beautiful country. However you want, the palate will be exalted when in contact with the ricotta filling based on semolina and candied fruit. Ah, to keep in mind: there is no time to eat the sfogliatella. From Attanasio in Vico Ferrovia, it awaits you warm and fragrant at any time of the day.
It is said that it is easy to be happy in Sicily. And in fact, seeing the quantity and type of Street Food present in Sicily is not difficult to understand why. To accompany the flavours of tradition, which tell the story of a land that has seen different dominations over time, the view of a breath taking landscape, that the whole world envies us.
Let’s start the journey in Sicilian street food with a classic of Palermo street food: sfincione, a high pizza, with a spongy mixture, topped with tomato, cheese, anchovies, oregano and onion. So good to deserve the PAT brand, traditional Italian agro-food product.
A ride to the Vucciria market, to fill the belly. In Palermo, which is no coincidentally the capital of Street Food in the world, we often come across street vendors of these grilled kebabs, prepared with the entrails of sheep rolled and seasoned with salt and onion. The poor cuisine becomes Italian excellence, with PAT brand and street vocation.
The doubt that has always gripped man? No, not if the egg or the chicken was born first, but “do they say arancini or arancine?”. Well in Sicily the linguistic debate has not yet been dissolved: in Palermo are strictly female (arancine), in Catania are masculine (arancini). In Naples they decided to avoid any problematic implication, calling them “pall e’ ris”(literally balls of rice). When in doubt, better bite one. These greedy and gigantic fried clusters of rice and meat sauce are one of the must-haves of Italian street cooking. There are also white versions, with mozzarella, ham and béchamel, and in many other variations. Where to find them? Look around you.
Bread and panelle, crocchè
We continue the journey in the Italian street food among the fried: here are the very classic crocché di patate and the panelle, the typical thin fritters, prepared with chickpea flour. These appetizers can be eaten pure or as “filling” of guastedde (loaves covered with sesame seeds), seasoned with salt and lemon.
Pani ca meusa
The legendary sandwich with the spleen is one of the most popular street foods in Palermo. The choice can fall on this street food only if you do not fear the flavours really strong: the pieces of spleen are cooked, along with lung and veal trachea, in the suet, in large pots preserved by the Sicilian grandmothers, then dried and served in the guastedda (see above). The sandwich thus made is presented to the public in two variants: “schietto” (accompanied only by a string of lemon) or “maritato” (with a sprinkling of caciocavallo or ricotta salata).
Last, but not list, we arrive in the controversial land of Sardinia. On one side the sea, one of the most beautiful in the world, a destination for rich and wealthy tourism, on the other the hinterland, harsh and linked to the traditions of all time. The contradiction is the soul of this land, which collects strong flavours even in street food.
A widespread fish in the lagoon area of Cabras becomes a versatile Sardinian street food. From its eggs, salted and dried according to tradition, it obtains the bottarga. As an alternative, the tasty fish meat can be tasted on the road, perfectly roasted on live embers.
Fave del Sinis
The peasant cuisine has been the source of maximum inspiration for Italian street food. Sardinia knows it well, which draws heavily from the traditional recipe book to satisfy the hasty palates who are passionate about street food. In the Sinis peninsula, located in the central-west area of the island, they are prepared exactly as they once were: a long soak in water precedes the boiling and seasoning, with garlic, parsley, oil and chilli pepper. Down those spoons: these street food gems are eaten one another, like peanuts.
20 regions, many specialties. A journey through Italian Street Food that started from the North (Part 1), crossed the Center (Part 2) and ended, for the moment, in the South (Part 3). But the world of street food is constantly evolving, like the sudden hunger and on the road of Italians and tourists.