Fried Cardoons in Palermo's Ballaro' Market

Written by Katie Parla on November 24, 2009


It’s that time of year again: cardoon season. I spied them for the first time this fall a couple of weeks ago in the Testaccio Market in Rome where the raw plants were being sold by the bundle. On Friday in Palermo’s Ballaro’ Market, I saw two cooked incarnations of the vegetable. Boiled cardoons were sold from large aluminum pots and fried cardoons were sold at the panelle vendor’s stall. Guess which one I went for?

The fried cardoons looked like the filetti di baccala’, with lots of golden brown breading around the stalks. From what I gathered, the cardoons had been boiled first to make them more tender and less bitter, then dipped in batter and deep fried. The were displayed beside other enticing fried snacks like panelle and crocche’ (fried mashed potatoes), but we stuck to this seasonal treat. The vendor fried them for a second time to warm them up, apparently anticipating that we were looking for the most cholesterol rich food in town, and served them to us on a sheet of brown paper to soak up the oil. Ah, I love a city that can turn its healthy produce into heart attack inducing fare.

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