pescespada al forno con limone – baked swordfish with lemon

It was hot, unbearably so. The idea of slaving over a hot stove was unthinkable. I had some thick slices of swordfish and little else apart from the Sicilian essentials I always have lying around – lemons, tomatoes, capers and herbs. And so I did something that I really shouldn’t have: I invented something. This, of course, is when Sicilians’ hackles start to rise. There are certain things that can be done. Some foodstuffs, such Continue Reading →

zuppa di pesce – fish soup

Last week’s ragù di tonno didn’t go down too well. I was even told off for applying the word “ragù” to fish. So this time something classic, that will hopefully keep the purists happy. What’s more, this dish for me is a benchmark. When I try a new fish restaurant, I will always try to order it, even if it’s not on the menu. Just as when I try a new bar, I ask the Continue Reading →

pasta al ragù di tonno – pasta with tuna ragù

Yes, tuna again, and brace yourselves, because there’s more lined up. This is tuna season, so what do you expect? And as you’ve probably realised by now, I just can’t get enough of the stuff… Today’s recipe is from Trapani, where they sometimes also add peas, which strikes me as a rare Sicilian ingredient slip-up. I personally love peas, but they are at their best when in similarly green company: simply dressed with butter and Continue Reading →

spaghetti al nero di seppia – spaghetti with cuttlefish ink sauce

There are foods that we inevitably associate with certain people. If anyone mentions pasta with ragù, for example, I always think of my son, George, who must be one of the world’s leading experts on the dish by now, considering his vast hands-on experience in the field. And lemon meringue pie always brings to mind my sister. I’m not even sure why, although it might just be because her lemon meringue pie is so damn Continue Reading →

occhiata (biata) all’acqua pazza – saddled seabream in spicy tomato broth

Despite a few problems caused by the fact that the dialect name for this fish here in Messina is biata, I did in the end manage to find the Italian equivalent (occhiata), which led me to the English translation. As a result, I can confidently confirm that the fish I cooked was saddled seabream, also trading under the rather more poetic alias of Oblada melanura. The best way to identify it, I learned, apart from Continue Reading →

spaghetti con mosciame – spaghetti with dry-cured tuna

No, before you ask, I am not a paid-up employee of the Tuna Marketing Board. Yes, I know, I posted a tuna recipe only last week, but that’s just a coincidence. Admittedly, with my love for tuna, let’s just say it was a coincidence waiting to happen. However, fishy coincidences aside, I’m sure you’re all wondering just what mosciame is. Quite a few Sicilians from this side of the island don’t know either, so you’re Continue Reading →

i ruggeri, messina

As I mentioned the other day, we were having bad weather, at least officially. So even though it was a Friday evening, the bars and restaurants were pretty empty. Our chosen dinner venue, I Ruggeri, was no exception, despite being top of tripadvisor’s list of the city’s 414 restaurants. Of course, I feel I should mention that at least in Italy, tripadvisor’s definition of “restaurant” is pretty flexible. “Restaurant” no. 2, for example, is actually Continue Reading →