Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Slow fish in Palermo

Palermo, May 11, 2010—
THE HUSBAND OF OUR hostess here, a Tunisian with whom we must speak only French since we know no Arabic and he's uncomfortable in Italian, runs a little trattoria downstairs below the apartment we've rented for the next few days, so of course on our first night in the Sicilian capital, anniversary or no, we dined there. We were the only ones to dine there, but we didn't feel too alone, as there are only four tables in all. He stood politely ignoring us, watching Tunisian television, while we talked business with his Dutch-born wife, a painter; and then after she left on her own business he continued to ignore us, whether out of politeness or forgetfulness I'm not quite sure, while we finished a bottle of wine.

Then, after a trip to a little room at the back, I asked him politely what he proposed. Concerning what, exactly, mussieu, he responded. What do you propose about that excellent daurade you mentioned, I said. Ah, would you like that? Yes we would, I answered cleverly, and he stepped into the kitchen, and before long we heard some cooking sounds, and after what seemed a very long time after which I thought the fish would be little more than shoe-leather here he came with a beautiful daurade on a plate for each of us, and for each of us also a fine bowl of mixed salad.

We're living around the corner from a big daily market that goes on for several blocks, and that's where our fish and our salad came from. The fish-counters smell wonderful, crisp and healthful, and are laden with everything from tiny clams and anchovies to enormous whole tuna. We expect to explore things further.
Trebbiano, Abruzzo, 2008

1 comment:

Curtis Faville said...

The word lately is that the Japanese and Chinese fishing corporations are scraping the Mediterranean clean--that in 15-20 years there won't be any tuna or any other sizeable fish left. Over-exploitation on this scale may ruin a fishery that's thrived for thousands of years.

When I was a kid, my stepfather used to say the seas would be the ultimate "bread-basket" of the world. But that was before we knew how fast the pace of population expansion would proceed. Burn it up, cut it down, drag it out, scrape it clean, shove it in--then walk away. As fast as possible.

More growth. More people. More more more.