Palermo’s food markets have their own particular charm –  it’s a raw, earthy charm, devoid of any prettiness or contrived display.  The stall holders, almost universally men, are tough, concentrated, often surly, leathery skinned, loud voiced, and energetic; the buildings lining the narrow, paved streets often run down.   What matters is the produce, abundant and colourful  under faded red canvas awnings and bright unshaded light bulbs.  The markets are appealing in every season, but for me, the winter markets have a particular charm.      

The dominant colour is green, splashed here and there with the brilliance of radishes, oranges, lemons and pumpkins.  The stalls are full of all types of green vegetable: huge stacks, row upon row,  of pale green cauliflowers; bunches of fern-like wild fennel and dark green broccoli and, everywhere, giri, a Sicilian plant with the darkest green glossy leaves and startingly white stalks – something like a cross between silver beet and spinach, it’s a particular favourite of mine. 

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