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There’s street life, and then there’s what takes place in Palermo: a hustle and bustle that verges on chaos, yet governed by a deep sense of human connection. There’s street food, and then there’s what you find in the Sicilian city’s buzzing markets: tables spread with freshly cooked octopus and smoking grills loaded with offal; stand after stand offering paper cones of crispy battered and fried seafood; countless vendors frying up ethereally light panelle, chickpea flour fritters. Palermo, in many ways, may be the place where the now much romanticized notions of “street life” and “street food” – which other cities have tried to replicate, sometimes to kitschy effect – were invented, centuries ago. But here these things are thought of simply as “life” and “food” – the street, in the case of Palermo, is the stage where one of the greatest human (and culinary) dramas anywhere plays out on a daily basis.
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