The sardella and the nunnata.

The "fish cuisine" between Egadi and Ionian Calabria

by Luca Giuseppe Murrone

 Cariati is a small medieval village, washed by the purity of Cosenza Ionio sea. There you can smell the scent of the sea, the smell of saltiness bathed in the sweat of the fishermen who, when it is still dark, take possession of the sea and make it their friend and confidant. Something is born from everything. From the labor of the sailors, a rich and abundant fish is born. The women are there, close to the harbour, and they await the arrival of their husbands. With a handkerchief on top, as if it were an imposition, a trademark.

Because the kitchen smells of the sea and that scent also emerges in the enchanting purity of the territory of Favignana and the Egadi islands: two heaven corners where people live on fishing, on the sea and everything suits the marvelous landscape.

After a long and tiring fishing, the men return to the harbour and from then on the rudder passes into the hands of the women, ready to make a gastronomic masterpiece from the fish caught.

When the period of the paranza arrives, everyone is mobilized

But what do these two territories have in common? Everything and nothing: since the sea that bathes both is what unites but at the same time makes the Egadi and the Ionian Cosenza different. In cooking, of course.

One of the main "poor" dishes, but full of perfume and goodness of Calabrian cuisine is in fact the sardella, a spicy red cream prepared by salting the "newborn" or bianchetto, an excellent quality of sardine that lives in clear and pure marine waters of that territory.

When the period of the paranza arrives, everyone is mobilized, even if, by law, in a certain period of the year, the fishing practice adopted for the "newborn" is illegal. Perhaps even this particular gives something more to this typical dish.

But if you read a Favignana tour guide, you will find among the typical dishes pasta with nunnata, or the classic fritters. Dishes that we also find in the "poor" but abundant Calabrian cuisine with different names, but the ingredient and the form are the same.

"Welcome to Crucoli. City of Sardella "

Not far from Cariati Marina, sailing the Ionian southwards and then towards Crotone, we will find the tourist and marina town of Crucoli Torretta which, like the neighboring village, is characterized by the most developed coastal part and by a historical center.

If you enter Crucoli, along the State Road 106, you will see, without a doubt, the road sign that just cites: "Welcome to Crucoli. City of Sardella ". A recognition of great importance, which makes the caviar of the poor (so this dish is also known) a trademark for the Calabrian territory.

In the Egadi Islands, inevitably, the result does not change: the nunnata is and will always remain a poor but prized dish with a unique taste, even if not as spicy as in the Calabrian territory.

Circumnavigating the sea, feeling the flavors and seeing the popular cultures that Calabria and Egadi propose, we will also notice that there is another fish strongly identity and "shared": tuna. But that's another story ... and we'll tell it to you soon.


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