It Started With a Trip to an Italian Fish Market
A memorable set of meals, thanks to great ingredients and simple cooking
All my adult life, when I arrive at a good fish store or stand, I overbuy: I can’t help it. I think, “Well, lunch, dinner, tomorrow ….”
No, that’s not true: I think, “Look at that squid! Look at those mussels!” And I just start buying what looks good. Sometimes I wind up cooking in advance; sometimes I freeze a thing or two.
This particular day in Rome, a month ago, I had in mind fried anchovies because we had been a few days earlier at a good restaurant called Trattoria Monti, which specializes in food of the Marche (some of which is another story entirely) and had eaten fried anchovies.
I’ve written about my fondness both for fried food and anchovies before, and fried anchovies – alici fritti – that’s just the ultimate. So I had been waiting to see anchovies in the market, and finally, I did, and they were already cleaned, a major bonus. Because I couldn’t resist it, I bought some sepia (cuttlefish) and some tuna, too, even though at this point I was alone, since Kathleen had to return to the U.S.
Back where I was staying, in its little kitchen, I had with me some very fine white polenta that we’d bought at the restaurant, Al Covo. I had good olive oil from a producer in Tuscany that we visited. I had lemon and salt and I needed nothing else. Dredge, fry, eat. Pretty simple.
For dinner, I thought I would be restrained, and used only the tentacles of the sepia; the steak-like bodies I would save for a day. (The tuna, too.) I first cooked some black chickpeas, which took forever despite soaking – I mean, literally three hours – and then simmered in their broth some wonderful carnaroli rice we’d bought from Tenuta San Carlo during a visit to the Maremma, along with the sepia tentacles, a bit of garlic, some oil, and a not very good but quite red tomato.
This wasn’t risotto – not even close — but more what my Spanish friends would call arroz con cosas – rice with things: completely imprecise and completely delicious.
Love all these photos!!
We have also such dish in Odessa,seaport,it calls tsatsa very tasty