5
May

palermo-pani ca meusa-porta carbone copy

As some of you know, I have written a whole book on Mediterranean street food and while researching it, I tasted almost all there is to taste on the streets of Spain, Italy, Morocco, Turkey and Egypt to name a few of the countries I covered. Most of what I tasted was great. Sometimes delicious and fun and sometimes more fun than delicious. But there were a few specialities I did not take to. In particular pani ca meusa, a greasy sicilian spleen sandwich. Nancy Harmon Jenkins who is one of the great writers on Mediterranean food and a friend couldn’t undrestand my repulsion but as much as I love spleen (my mother makes a divine braised version that I will blog one day that I am with her in Lebanon), I couldn’t see the point of this sandwich. Well, not until another great friend, Mary on whose farm we were staying, sent us to Porta Carbona where not only did I finally discover that a greasy spleen sandwich could be absolutely scrumptious but I was also able to convert Amy to it.

palermo-bulding the sandwich 2 copy

The place which is right on the waterfront was heaving with people with three older gentlemen (the gransons of the founder) behind the long counter, each with his own tub of slices of spleen, making sandwiches for them. The service was very fast. And when I got my sandwich, I soon discovered the difference between Porta Carbona’s and those I had eaten before which had never appealed to me, At Porta Carbona there was nothing but spleen with no odd bits like trachea and even though there is a lot of fat in the tub with the meat (I guess to keep it moist), the sandwich maker presses it out as you can see in the pictures below.

palermo-closing the sandwich copy

palermo-pani ca meusa-squeezing fat off copyAlso the bread used by the guys at Porta Carbone was proper Sicilian bread (made with semolina and called pane giallo), and they offer two choices, one with sesame seeds and one without. Also they use caciocavallo and not ricotta not to mention the perfect seasoning. You can add more salt from the big bowl they have on the counter. And squeeze lemon juice on your meat by picking up a wedge of lemon from the big bowl of lemon wedges they also had on the counter.

palermo-our pani ca meusa copy

palermo-amy holding the pani ca meusa copy

All in all a great success. I will definitely go back there, both for the sandwich and the fun atmosphere as well as the delightful location, part marina, part working port!

palermo-outside porta carbona copy

 


There is 2 comments on this post


  • I was there just a few weeks ago. This was my second time. I was born in the region so “pani ca meusa” was not new to me, however my nephew introduced me to this place in a prior trip to Sicily and I was hooked, so much so that it was my first stop after landing at Punta Rais airport (or as it is known now Falcone–Borsellino Airport). This “dish” has not really changed much from when I was a young student, however another sicilian specialty “panelle” have found a place in the new Sicilian cuisine, no longer relegated to the “panino e panelle” you can find it as a complement in many new dishes. If not in your collection its worth a new trip to beautiful Sicilia.


  • funnily enough i had panelle only last week, home made and quite delicious :)

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