/Pane Ca' Meusa

Pane Ca' Meusa


Not everyone is lucky enough to have a fond memory associated with deep fried spleen on a bun. My grandfather and I are among the fortunate. In 2004, three generations of Cipollina descendants returned to our ancestral city. For five days, my mom, grandfather and I visited Palermo’s mosaic clad churches, white stucco embellished oratories, and hectic markets. During our walk through Ballaro’ one afternoon, Nonno Cipollina told us about a sandwich he remembered eating in the Bronx as child. He knew it only as vastedda. He recalled a sliced meat sandwich on bread but when we visited the vasteddaru and placed our order, he filled our sesame buns with deep fried strips of meusa (spleen) and grated caciocavallo. In a way, the brownish grey matter did resemble meat, but the taste and texture was pure offal: slightly gummy with a consistency not unlike liver, but firmer.

Last week I headed back to Ballaro’ for pane ca’ meusa. This time Nonno wasn’t physically there but his organ meat loving presence was felt nevertheless. I photographed my greasy, dripping spleen sandwich and sent the image from my Blackberry. He called me soon after to thank me for the thoughtful message. I wonder if only the Cipollina DNA is programmed to derive joy from such simple, offal filled memories.

2016-01-07T14:37:31+00:00 November 25th, 2009|Categories: Gastronomic Traditions, Offal, Sicily|8 Comments


  1. Parla Food: A food and travel blog. November 21, 2009 at 4:48 am - Reply

    […] Pane Ca’ Meusa […]

  2. Mamma Parla aka JP November 25, 2009 at 12:17 am - Reply

    What a touching post! We had fun (and laughs) on our search for the mysterious “vastedda” sandwich. I believe the “joy for offal” you mentioned in our DNA definitely skipped a generation – for me it was all about the journey!

  3. Carmelita November 25, 2009 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    Yum, another favouirte! In Tuscan-Romagan they od very tasty Crostini di Milsa, love them!

  4. Diana Delatorre December 9, 2009 at 8:02 pm - Reply

    This looks Offal but I admire your intrepid eating. Talk about commitment to a cause.

    • Katie December 10, 2009 at 1:19 pm - Reply

      I will never forget the look on your face when you tried spleen sandwich. You knew you would hate it. You did. You tried it anyway. Now that is commitment.

  5. Fabio G. December 30, 2010 at 2:55 pm - Reply

    From Palermo, just to be accurate.
    -the offal inside your bun was 90% cow lung, the rest was spleen: the “spongier” one was the spleen.
    -“deep fried” here means boiled first, then fried into pig’s fat (“sugna”).
    -if you actually did try to look inside the bun, you could have seen small white chunks: that’s the “scannaruzzatu”, chopped bronchus, to give it a crunchy feeling.

    • Katie January 2, 2011 at 3:01 am - Reply

      @Fabio G thanks for this! I never knew about the scannaruzzatu bits!

  6. […] confident we can accomplish our goals: an arancina bomba at Bar Touring, cremolate at Le Cremolose, pane ca’ meusa in the Ballaro’ Market, a big fat ice cream sandwich at Oriol, setteveil at Massaro, […]

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