Today our GustiBus takes us to discover the origins of pane e panelle (panelle sandwich) – one of the protagonists of street food in Palermo – more than a thousand years away!
As we have already seen, like most of the typical Sicilian recipes also panelle have Arab origins: already during the ninth century the Arabs began to grind chickpeas to create a flour to be mixed with water and aromas, not particularly tasty but highly nourishing, therefore essential for the nutrition of the common people.
It took not a long time to discover that the mixture resulting in a thin sheet cooked using very high heat, or to be fried, could be something extremely tasty and unforgettable. That is how panelle came to life! It is no coincidence that this recipe has come down to the present day, beeing not only a typical dish, which when paired with bread becomes the street food par excellence, but also a profession, that of the “panellaro”, each one of holder of his own personal recipe.
With his cart on street corners equipped with a saucepan full of steaming oil and tons of fresh bread, the “panellaro” sold (and still sells) its delicacies to young and old people, to every social class and even to famous clients such as Pirandello, Sciascia and Guttuso.
Although any time of the day, and of the year, is ideal for a “coppo” with panelle, they are traditionally eaten on Saint Lucia’s day, even in the sweet version with ricotta and powdered sugar.
An unmissable experience for tourists visiting Palermo, the panelle sandwich is often combined with another of the typical Palermo delicacies, potato croquettes and, for the more daring, even fried aubergines, in a blaze of Sicilian delicacies.