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Open Air Markets, Especially Ballarò Market in Palermo

■ 29 June 2013 by James Martin

I am a foodie. I am not a foodie.

Ok, let’s face it: I don’t know what a foodie is. Yeah, “a person who likes food” comes to mind. But what food? The food coming from the exalted kitchens of a chef who might mix 476 spices with a molecularly deconstructed flank steak seasoned with a special salt scraped from a chunk of meteorite found in a corn field in Nebraska and force the whole, syrupy shebang through the tiny orifices of a specially modified ink jet printer to spew designs upon a translucent sheet of specially stretched lamb tendon so they can sell the exclusive concoction to you for $149.99 an ounce while you sip the few drops of precious Chateauneuf du Pape they’ve managed to drip into a glass big enough to fit Rush Limbaugh’s head?

I’m not that kinda foodie any more. Maybe when I was young. Rush Limbaugh’s head wasn’t nearly so big then anyway.

And not nearly as big as the cow heads on display at the famed Ballarò Market in Palermo. Antony Bourdain ate the famous spleen sandwich there. Pane ca’ meuza they call it. He didn’t die, either.

But this morning I saw a couple of postings about the market. They had my name on them, in a manner of speaking. Here’s one that got me lusting to go, to rent an apartment and spend a week or more cooking the fab stuff on sale in all those glorious pictures: Ballarò Market in Palermo

Heck, I get goosebumps just thinking of talking to the guys in the stalls. “What do you do with these?” I might ask, then sit back while the secrets of Sicilian cuisine are revealed to me. It’s not like you’re in the Safeway and the check-out babe asks you what that red lettuce-like stuff is and how you’re going to use it. America is backwards, and slipping more so each day.

There’s more. Rosalia Chiarappa, a journalist who I had the pleasure of meeting in Conversano in Puglia, posted some more great pictures from the same market this morning on her Facebook page called Un giro a Ballaró

Heck, we’re just in the process of ordering our tickets for our fall journey and I’m already thinking of a side trip to Sicily.

Real food. That’s the kinda foodie I am. A real foodie. You sit me in front of a picture of a hunk of crusty bread, a gaggle of ripe tomatoes and a bowl of fresh mozzarella and I’m drooling lustily. The picture in this posts sets me off: Cilento, odi et ama parte seconda. La lista dei buoni di Marco Contursi

Yes, it’s in Italian. But look at the picture. You add the sea to the background and it’s just perfect. It’s not a bright, sunny day. It’s the tomatoes that make a bright day. And here, too, we are in the south of Italy. This time in Puglia.

I am obviously hearing the siren song of the south. And of the open air markets. And yes, even the cow’s heads call to me. Sorry, Rush. You’re so yesterday.

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Open Air Markets, Especially Ballarò Market in Palermo originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com Jun 29, 2013, © James Martin.

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