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Pesce azzurro

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FISH FROM THE ADRIATIC

Along the Adriatic coast from Cesenatico to Cattolica, the smell of the sea air mixes with the intense fragrances from kitchens and from the fires of restaurants and trattorias. The smell of fish has always predominated.

Fish from the Adriatic: mantis shrimps, squid, soles, turbot, clams, mullet and, above all “pesce azzurro” (fish of the mackerel variety), what the locals on the two sides of the canal harbour of Cesenatico have always called e’ pés turchin (turquoise fish).ricetta-alici-marinate

For far too long, and unjustly, this was considered a humble fish. It was eaten above all by the fishermen, who were certainly not rich. On returning from their fishing trips, they were in the habit of eating freshly-caught “pesce azzurro” directly on the pier (while the higher-quality varieties were sold), grilled on improvised barbecues: “i foconi”.

These continue to be indispensable today for cooking a real “rustida”: “pesce azzurro” grilled in breadcrumbs, to be eaten boiling hot with your hands, “a scottadito”, as they say on the coast of Romagna.

alici-marinateSprats, anchovies, mackerels and sardines are fished in abundance in this part of the Adriatic. The flesh is tasty and of great nutritional value.

The fact that an extensive range of local recipes exists for cooking “pesce azzurro”, each one better than the other, and some very refined, can be attributed to the inexhaustible cooking fantasy of the restaurant owners of the coast, who today reinterpret traditions with a cuisine that has acquired wide renown.

In point of fact the gastronomic vocation of this old sea town has always been well known, as we are told in the 1st century B.C. by the Greek Polybius in his Historia: here the art of good eating dates back at least two thousand years.