What’s for dinner? Let’s have THINGIES!!!!
These are people who don’t just like their food fresh. They like it pulsating. They like the challenge of preventing their tea from making a last-minute bid for freedom. They like to think a good vet could revive it. There is, to the Brit abroad, something fundamentally Not Right about waiting for your dinner to die (or worse, having to help it on its way) but here, it’s a way of life.
I have been on a beach and watched while Handsome Swain scrambled about on rocks scraping thingies into a water bottle, and I’ve sat with the same water bottle held at arm’s length on the way home trying to stop the thingies from crawling up the sides and getting out. (Those particular thingies had an odd taste, a sort of cross between land and sea, meat and fish. Think salty soil)
I’ve set the table for English visitors and shared their horror as the sea urchins loving bought and cleaned by HS waggle their waggly bits as if in greeting. (They taste like bits of bath sponge soaked in salt)
And I learned long ago that you buy mussels and other molluscs fresh and eat them on the day. Because if you don’t, they eat your teatowels….. Our first Italian boyfriends took us to buy mussels one Saturday night and the mussel-man told us they would be fine the following day as long as we put them in a bowl of salted water, not in the fridge and covered them with a cloth. The cloth was a red teatowel, and the bowl was placed on the kitchen worksurface. All through the night I could hear splish-splosh-splash from the kitchen, and through my stupor imagined there was a dripping tap somewhere. Then we found the floor wet through, the mussels in half the water they had started off in, and half the red teatowel gone. (I don’t know if they tasted of teatowel. We ate pizza.)
Razor clams and crayfish are the worst I think…..Something about the wormlike nature of the razor clam, or the way it shrinks in horror when lemon is squeezed along its wormy body. Or perhaps it’s the fact that the crayfish has proper eyes, living eyes, that look at you from out of its plastic bag.
Whatever, love Italian food as I do, I prefer my fish to be fish shaped, and to have been dead for at least a few hours, and by someone else’s hand, before I pick up my cutlery.