The Milza Sandwich: Palermo, Sicily
Italian food is my favourite. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s from the North or South, East or West, inland or coastal – I love it all!
Palermo was no exception. Matt and I had a variety of things to eat, drink and do. We enjoyed our month-long visit immensely as the locals were friendly, the buildings old and beautiful, the seafood was plentiful and there were palm trees, yes, palm trees in Italy! The only thing we could do without was the intense heat we experienced in the month of August…but I digress.
Every morning I would wake and begin anticipating our daily visit to the Capo Market.
The name ‘Capo’, translating to ‘boss’, was definitely spot on. This was THE market to visit in Palermo. Fresh produce lined the streets: figs, oranges, mushrooms, tomatoes, lemons, onions, peaches and herbs. You name it, it was there. Of course it would not be complete without olive stands, pizzetta carts, butchers, fishmongers and the odd frittola basket – which I made sure to stay clear of. Capo market was a one-stop shop. The only activity that beat shopping at the market, was actually getting to cook and try everything we purchased!
With every visit to the market we enjoyed walking new routes and discovering the streets of Palermo. One day, early on in our month-long visit, we stumbled upon a large crowd patiently awaiting delicious looking sandwiches from a bustling storefront called Ristorante Nino U’ Ballerino. We stopped to gawk and watched a jovial looking man as he laid fresh slices of dripping, juicy meat on the bottom half of a sesame seed bun. The panino (Italian for sandwich) got topped with grated cheese and a squeeze of lemon.
Intrigued, we went inside to find out just what was being served. It was called a ‘Milza’ sandwich and we could see from the sandwich board it was very budget friendly. At this point we wished we hadn’t just bought all of our lunch ingredients!
We ventured back to our Sicilian apartment, without having tried the sandwich in hopes of finding out a little more about the famous dish – I’m glad we did.
As it turned out, the Milza sandwich originated in Palermo and is very popular with locals. So what were those juicy slices of meat I saw being folded onto a soft bun?
It was none other than cow’s spleen.
My first reaction was ‘gross’. I thought I wouldn’t be able to venture enough out of my comfort zone to try this local delight. I’ve never been keen on organs, but after passing by the sandwich shop a few other times I began teetering on the idea. I soon realized I would most likely try it.
For me, travelling is about immersing myself into different cultures, meeting locals and exploring new avenues. This was a perfect way to do all of the above. Although I was hesitant, I was excited to see what all the fuss was about! I made my way back to Ristorante Nino U’ Ballerino and ordered my first milza sandwich.
Watch the video below to see how my first taste turned out!
**Please mind the very loud, loud speaker in the background. I guess it’s what the locals want to hear!**
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