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Fish you were here

Paula McIntyre


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Orchiette with sardines

Orchiette with sardines

Fish cakes

Fish cakes

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Orchiette with sardines

In the Lazio region of Italy, not too far from the town of Cassino where the famous battle was fought in World War Two, is the little village of Casalattico. It’s a picture postcard, beautiful elevated collection of quintessentially Italian houses with a show stopping church in the centre of the village. The wraparound breathtaking views of the stunning Abruzzi mountains will live long in my memory. Having been lucky enough to spend several idyllic holidays here, as the evenings are drawing in I’ve found my mind wandering back to sunny afternoons sitting in the piazza with the warm spring sun shining brightly to the sound of laughter, crickets chittering and glasses clinking with ice and filled with real prosecco. On one particular occasion this charming scene was disturbed by earth shattering music coming from an unknown source. The locals were unperturbed and we quickly realised that this noisy little white van that punched way above it’s weight in terms of audio ability, was in fact the fishmonger on his weekly round trip from the coastal town of Gaeta. The driver parked up, flung open the back doors and within seconds the local women and restaurateurs formed an orderly queue eager to enjoy the spoils of the fishermen’s early morning catch. Later that evening there were fresh clams and squid on the menu in the local Osteria.

In this country inclement weather will have an impact on the availability of the catch and yet we always expect to have fresh fish on the menu regardless of this practical consideration. My preference would be to go without rather than opt for frozen or extensively farmed varieties.


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