How I went from Manchester to Sicily and back – via Bury

Got me one of them fancy retro picture apps on my phone now, all retro stylee here!


One rainy Saturday morning we were working our way through our adventure time stack of leaflets, flyers and maps which we have accumulated over the past year or so, looking for something to do on this rather miserable day. For a fraction of a second, the thick blanket of clouds opened up just about enough to let through a single ray of sun light, lighting up the leaflet I was holding in my hand. That very same moment, the church bells next door started to ring their most beautiful song, and an elating, almost euphoric sensation pulsated through my body. When I looked down at the leaflet, which was still lit up by that single ray of light, I knew we had found our destination for the day: Bury Market.*

And it was… well, big. Very big. A paradise for anyone who really, really needs several pairs of slippers. And meat. Lots of meat. In the food bit, there were fewer fancy food stalls with cake (CAKE.), chocolates, deli stuff, the usual, than I had hoped for, and the few fruit and veg stalls weren’t too convincing. Which, of course, did not stop me from buying my way across the various food stalls at the market. But then, just as I was wandering through a remote corner of the market, trying to find something lunch-able, I had the second epiphany of the day. All of a sudden, I could hear a quiet, friendly voice behind me: “Please… eat this. If you eat here, you will be very, very lucky today!”

“Well, I suppose if the food already starts talking to me, it has to be a lucky day” I thought and turned around. Three faces smiled at me, framed by an array of food and little signs. “We only just opened today, you should really eat something we made… it will be your lucky day!” one of the faces said to me. I quickly scanned the food on offer, just to spot something familiar looking: A small, bread crumb covered ball – an “arancina”, a deep fried risotto ball, which I had just discovered on a trip to Rome the week before. As I am unable to say no when offered food, particularly not by friendly faces, I accepted the offer for food and quickly engaged in a little chat while waiting for the “arancina” to finish its bath in the deep fat fryer. Turned out the stall owners of “La Putia” were incredibly friendly Sicilians with a love and a lot of enthusiasm for food, who were more than happy to talk about Sicilian specialities, Italian food in general, ice cream and tiramisu in particular, and which Italian restaurant in Manchester was the best (apparently none is proper Italian despite the Italian chefs and owners, but San Carlo comes close). I walked away with a delicious little crunchy-creamy risotto and spinach ball and a phone number for home made tiramisu, which happily joined the blocks of cheese, whimberry pie and fancy cordial in my bag. A lucky day indeed!

* In case you’re wondering: the tram to Bury was on time, the tram back into Manchester was massively delayed. That’s 50% of my Metrolink journeys this month delayed, good work TfGM! Oh and, by the way, the new black bus stop signs are ridiculously difficult to spot. Who thought “hey, we’ll design some bus stop signs that blend in smoothly with the urban environment” was a good idea?