Thursday, 8 September 2011

FROM TABARKA TO CARLOFORTE: A MEDITERRANEAN FOOD HISTORY AMONG GENOA, TUNISIA AND SARDINIA – PART 2





Nowadays, Carloforte is a lively Sardinian port. Red tuna fishing thrives, and 15th May – 15th June is the time for the communal setting of the nets and for the “girotonno” festival. “Carlofortina” is the name of a sailing boat specially equipped for lobster fishing (please note that admiral Horace Nelson reputed the carlofortini to be the best boat builders of the Mediterranean). Saltpans stand south of the centre, whereas vegetable gardens and vineyards – lovely sheltered from impetuous winds – are a token of rural traditions. The indigenous vine variety (but also carignano, monica, granaccia, moscato bianco, nuragus and trebbiano are grown) is the ramungiò, the protagonist of a pleasant dry white (13° average) to be enjoyed cool and young with fish. History, commerce and culture are obviously reflected in the local cuisine, displaying a variety of influences form Sardinia and Liguria. Numberless recipes are based on tuna (no parts are left out apart from head and tail), the carlofortini do love scabeccio (the fish is fried, then marinated) and tonnina (cooked flesh undergoes at least 1-month salting), figatellu (the male gonads are boiled, pickled with oil and then eaten in salads or other preparations) and belu (the lyophilized stomach is boiled and pan stirred with potatoes, onions and tomatoes), gurezi (esophagus) and spinella (flesh that is not completely boned), bottarga (tuna eggs, pressed, salted and dried) and mosciamme (dried tuna fillets); the facussa is a sort of cucumber (tasty, sweet and refreshing) of Maghrebin origins participating with sea biscuits to the place’s adaptation of the caponadda salad; several declinations of chick pea farinata echo the memory of Pegli, and an in ancient local preparation farinata is the stuffing of a savoury tart. Gourmet highlights also include ceci in zimino (chick pea soup), focaccia, casòlla (a fish and mussels soup), basil pesto (enriched by tomato sauce), ravioli (usually filled with ricotta cheese) dressed with tomato sauce, bobba (a roasted polentina made of ground dry fava beans), stuffed onions (fried and topped with a light tomato sauce), cascà (a meatless version of couscous, vegetables cooked separately, feasted by an April fair), fried fish with aggiadda (garlic mortar sauce), stoccafisso (dry cod) and baccalà (salted cod), whence yummy frisceu fritters, panetti coi fichi secchi (made with dry figs and almonds), prepared on All Saints’ Day or on November 4th (San Carlo), Christmas or Easter canestrelli cookies (short pastry rules)…

















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