Blog god: Simon Majumdar
Simon, one half of sibling blog duo Dos Hermanos, talks about his visit to Palermo, part of the world food tour for his forthcoming book EAT MY GLOBE.
Nowhere in the thirty countries I visited came even close to matching the sheer obsession of the Sicilians, never call them Italians, have with all matters related to food and drink.
By the time I arrived at Palermo’s chaotic small airport, I was one year and one week into the
journey, my left foot had developed a stress fracture and my palate was jaded by over a thousand meals on my quest to ‘go everywhere and eat everything”
I was quite frankly, ready to quit, but the crackling energy of Sicily’s capital makes it impossible not to be caught up in the passion for eating and drinking.
From the moment they start their day with a thick, rich coffee accompanied by a cornetto, the local Croissant, to the final evening snack of local ham with thick ribbons of fat, soft local Sheep’s milk cheese and a glass of inky Nero D’avola, the Sicilians appear to think about little else apart from what the next meal might be and where it is coming from.
It is a wonder that anything ever gets accomplished as, across the city, streets are in disrepair as workmen lean against their shovels eating the Pani Ca Meusa, Palermo’s signature sandwich of calf lung and spleen meat simmered in lard, sprinkled with salt and lemon juice and served on a soft roll.
In cake shops everywhere, demands can be heard for cannoli, the tubular pastries filled with sweet ricotta cheese, to keep the hunger pangs at bay in the all too long wait between breakfast and lunch.
Then for lunch, there is pasta and, of course, the Sicilians are as particular about this as they are all the other things they eat with only the freshest fish possible finding their way into Palermo’s favourite Pasta Con La Sarde, where the sauce is flavoured with the wild fennel piled high in every market.
It did no harm that my introduction to the food of the city came via Claudio, the owner of my guesthouse who seemed to know everyone and who took me on a whirlwind tour of the best Palermo had to offer.
In the small Vucciria market, we approached a stall where fresh octopus was simply boiled in salted water and served with the head split open to allow the brain meat to form a natural sauce. At the next stall, another friend of Claudio’s proudly held aloft a large sack of roe, eggs taken from a silver mullet, which he was planning to cure in sea salt to make bottarga, which can be grated over pasta or eaten on its own with lemon juice.
Finally, to Café Antico, Claudio’s favourite restaurant where owner, Giovanni was busy preparing Spaghetti Con Ricci using sea urchins he had bought at the harbour that morning and was cracking open to spoon the contents into a pan of garlic sizzling in olive oil before tossing with the cooked pasta.
As we sat, a constant parade of Claudio’s friends passed by our table, each stopping for a glass of wine or a shot of local grappa.
Claudio raised his glass in one hand and twisted the forefinger of his other against his cheek in a traditional Sicilian gesture of deliciousness.
“This is the best place in the world to eat” he said.
Even after twenty-eight countries and one thousand meals, it was hard to argue with him.
Visit Simon’s blog
Simon Majumdar talks more about Palermo, part of the world food tour, for his book
EAT MY GLOBE
(to be published by John Murray in April 2009).
What made you start blogging?
At first, it was purely for the pleasure of writing for its own sake. They say write about the things you know and food seemed the best choice, unless I wanted to write about Rotherham United or Frank Zappa.
I started the blog in 2006 and my older brother Robin began posting actively about four months later.
Does the blog have a theme?
Two brothers “go everywhere eat everything” and then give you all the gory details in words and blurry pictures.
What inspired your love of food?
Our food obsessed family for whom the words, “will you be wanting that sausage?” was a way of expressing affection.
Favourite thing about blogging?
Seeing how people find their way to
via Google. Everything from searches for “Mum nude in South Korea” to “Giles Coren Shirtless”
Least favourite thing?
The image I now have burned in my mind of “Giles Coren Shirtless”
Have you made friends with other bloggers?
We have not really become part of the blogging community. Primarily because we are, I think, older than most of the others and have a dread fear they will point at us and laugh if we turn up to an event.
Many have been kind and linked to our site for which we are really grateful and would return the compliment if we could figure out how on earth it was done.
Simon’s favourite blogs (in alphabetical order)
Are you one of Simon’s favourite bloggers? Then we’d love to hear from you