Stories from Italy: Power cut, turtles and a grilled fish.

31 Oct

It does not take long until you become a part of the slow-paced village of Buriano. Already the day after we had arrived, we were as sleepy as the environment around us. The day had passed quickly and the time was already 3 pm. Knowing that the power cut we discovered earlier in the morning would not let us cook as usual, we had to figure out how we were going about the dinner. In the spirit of the town, Johan, Janna and Pelle, suggested that we should go out and eat, but I refused to. With my inspiration that day, going out to eat would be such a waste. I was going to cook no matter what. How? By doing it the stone-age way… Over a fire.

As usual, Johan was enthusiastic and the one that took on me. The car drove down the winding roads of the hill down to the maremma, then west with the final goal the fish market in Castilligione della Pescaia. My memories from that fish market were few; but what I remembered always made me want to go back; fresh fish everywhere, a boat delivering its catch, old men shouting in Italian, big swordfish heads, first time I saw the tuna fish outside the can… etc.

When we had reached Castilligione twenty minutes later, we parked the car somewhere near, probably on a piazza, and headed towards the harbour. It still looked the same. Fish everywhere – sold from trucks, boats and small shops. But there was something weird. The atmosphere was wistful and ghostlike. There was no one to sell the fish, nor to operate this whole market. Despite the heat, black and grey heavy clouds filled the sky.

To sum it up, me and Johan were the only 0nes more alive than the fish…

Not really knowing where to go and where we could find anyone, we randomly decided to into some whole in the wall. Other than feeling ghostlike, this little fish shop felt even emptier. Or not necessarily empty, but laconic and very mystical. Like someone was observing us. Inqusitively we moved around in the shop and looked at some poster with information about the fish they were selling. After reading that, we looked at the fish, feeling very enlightened by the poster. We both knew what we were going to buy… They had all sorts of fish; tuna, mackerel, swordfish, snapper. It was so inspiring to look at.

Suddenly, a man, come god knows whence, stood before us – between us and the fish. He said something in Italian and showed us a big blue bowl full of water. The man was peculiar. He was short, old – maybe in his eighties – and had a nose like Pinnochio.

Having a closer look at his bowl, me and Johan spotted two small baby turtles swimming round and round, apparently very unhappy with their current living situation. He tried to sell the turtles to us, but his unbelievably enthusiactic body language and charming Italian accent did not convince us.. We did not want to have anything to do with these two illegal items and all we brought from that shop was a fine tuna.

Leaving the shop was like entering a new world. Outside it was sunny, people were cheering, screaming and laughing in Italian, a boat unloaded the catch of the day, a fisherman sold a fine sword fish steak – and behind us we could see the man with the turtles smile. The wistful atmosphere had altered to its opposite.

The fish market was now more alive than ever.

So was we.

On the way home we passed by a farmers market and bought the rest; herbs, lemon, olives, chili, olive oil and charcoal.

When entering the sleepy town, we both knew that this time we would not let the town catch us in its slow pace. We ran from the car to the house; Janna and Pelle welcomed us. They lighted the grill, I took care of the fish and eventually we all sat on the pergola enjoying one of the best meals I have ever cooked. We were all quiet, the atmosphere laconic. Before us the ceaseless beauty of Italy. In our mouths, the taste of it.

Despite all the compliments I got for the fish and all the different conversations about how this trip would evolve, there was only one thing I could think about:

The man with the turtles.
Recipe.

1 Big whole fish

3 Garlic cloves

1,5 tablespoons of salt

1 tomato ( sliced)

1 onion (slices)

rosemary

sage

thyme

Pepper

1/2 chili

1/2 tablespoon of sugar

1 lemon in slices

olive oil

green olives

1. Stuff the fish with all the ingredients above and grill it in foil on a grill

2. Serve with a fresh salat and potato

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2 Responses to “Stories from Italy: Power cut, turtles and a grilled fish.”

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