• Karen Seiger

Guest Market: Mercato Ballarò in Palermo, Sicily

Back in April, 2012, I received a wonderful email from a gentleman named Mauro Pellerito from Palermo. He had seen an interview I’d done with Speak Up Italia Magazine, and he was planning a family trip to New York. It turns out that he loves markets as much as I do! So we agreed to meet when arrived with his wife Carolina and daughters Giorgia and Simona.

We visited the Dekalb Market together, and I sent them to Chelsea Market and the Union Square Greenmarket. They loved everything, and they had a wonderful time in the city. They told me how much they love their own market back in Palermo. Later, they sent me some amazing images of the Ballarò Market, which is how we came to feature it here on Markets of New York City.

NOTE: There are some graphic images of the butcher section of the market. Now, I’ve seen butcher shops around the world with ears and lungs hanging on a meat hook in the window and cow heads dripping into a bucket. Yet, to be honest, I struggled around how to present the butcher images here. At the end of the day, however, I realized that almost no part of any animal goes unused. And so when we talk about “farm to table,” and “nose to tail,” this is what it looks like, folks.

I also wanted to share a few words from Mauro’s awesome daughter Giorgia, who collaborated with her dad on this contribution — and who speaks and writes beautifully in English:

This market is near my school, so I usually spend my all free time there, for example to buy a snack during school break or to have lunch with my friends after school! I really like the colors of this market and also is a place where you can feel the old Sicilian atmosphere.

The best things you can eat there are “pane e panelle” (bread with pancake made of chickpea flour) and “pane ‘ca meusa” (bread and veal spleen). I usually buy it with my friends for lunch!

Mauro himself also writes:

Ballarò is with the final accent. Surely some Italian-American people can remember this name. It’s an old market and I love topass through it, listening to the sellers shouting the best quality of their products, or looking at the explosion of colours. And then I love the fish. There, you can find the fresh one and many kinds for all the people. You can buy very cheap fish or very expensive, but it is always fresh.

It’s the oldest market in Palermo. The other big one is Il Capo. La Vucciria is almost closed, as there are only a few shops, very different from the past. Ballarò is near the Central Station in the old Palermo. I go there every Saturday to buy fresh fish. Giorgia’s school is very close to the market and she can eat that kind of food every day. Street food, I mean. But unluckily, she and her friends prefer McDonald’s… No comment.

I used to go to the market when I was a child because my grandfather lived there, in a flat in the main square. You can buy fish and vegetables to take home. But you can also find all the street foods you see in the pictures: pane e panelle, pane ca’ meusa, frittola, musso and so on… Are some names of the food you’ll taste when you come to visit us.

Si Mangia Bene nel Mercato Ballarò! E mille grazie a Mauro e Giorgia per la sua bellissima contribuzione! [singlepic id=1550 w=320 h=240 mode=watermark float=center]

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© 2020 by Karen Seiger

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