The best way to understand the importance of seafood on the Sicilian
table is to visit the fish market in Catania, which is as old as the
ancient city itself. I watched it come to life one morning as workers
unloaded their catches onto tables full of ice.
There were heaps of
gyrating octopuses, buckets full of snails and tiny clams, beautiful
arrangements of eels and rays and any other form of sea life imaginable.
The fish came from Mazara del Vallo, Italy's largest fishing port, in
southwest Sicily, as well as smaller ports famed for specific things:
anchovies from Sciacca, swordfish from Favignana.
Teenage boys carried
espressos in tiny plastic cups from nearby bars to the fishmongers,
who—arms flailing and voices raised—were negotiating with housewives and
wholesalers and chefs.