Venice Envy

People may complain that it stinks, others that it is sinking, and still more that it is too expensive. Those who are there in the winter lament the floods that render every street and alleyway a canal. But nothing anyone will ever say can sour my love for the most romantic city of them all — Venice.

Your host on Piazza San Marco with Venetian carnival mask, a foggy morning in March, circa 199?

So it was with some degree of green that I accepted the news that our neighbors and friends, Chris and Glennis, had rented an apartment in Venice this summer. Chris added insult to injury by sending me the website for the place they were staying, complete with perfectly framed view onto the Grand Canal. In response, I did what any affronted friend would — I invited them over for a “bon voyage” Venetian dinner. More

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More Tiny Little Fishies

I don’t know what it is about small fish that is so appealing to me.

I remember being in Italy as a child, and looking on in horror as my parents dug into platefuls of tiny fried fish, uncleaned and with heads intact! (Why this was more objectionable to my 11-year-old sensibilities than the squid tentacles I was gobbling with wild abandon that same trip I’ll never know.) Fast forward a quarter century of so, and I can’t get enough of the small fry.

Italian-style “fritto di mare” fried whitefish

I buy teeny, tiny “ice fish” — no longer than a nickel and pale white — at the Japanese market, coat them in a light tempura batter and make fish fries. I buy smelt or other little fish, and recreate the fritto misto that traumatized me as a child in Italy. I purchase silvery sardines to pickle or throw on the grill. I can’t remember when it all changed, perhaps it was the climbing-a-mountain/crossing-a-new-frontier aspect it. But whenever and however, I became a devotee of diminutive dabs. More

Little Silver Fishies

Sardines are not a fence sitter’s fish. Like anchovies, people tend to either love them or hate them. But in the hater’s camp, I usually find folks who have only encountered small tins of the tightly packed, long-deceased fish. And I aim to convert them with the revelation that is a fresh sardine.

Most people have never seen a fresh sardine, with its sleek profile and pearlescent silver and blue skin. A favorite food of large baleen whales, sardines are one of the most abundant fish in the sea, swimming in massive shoals numbering in the millions. More

That Blank Stare

You would think everyone at my house would be living a life of culinary bliss, eagerly anticipating the next plate placed before them. But it ain’t always so…

Polpo diavolo

Everything is grand when I serve breaded chicken cutlets, hamburgers or pizza. Unless I try to slip some anchovies on top. But certain dishes elicit a blank stare from the kids — even from the wife on occasion — that says: “You expect me to eat that??” More

The World’s Healthiest Things and Me

I eat my fair share of salt-cured pork products. I like sprinkling my food liberally with flaky sea salt. I enjoy rib eye steaks, and I’m a fan of potato chips and ice cream. But I also eat a good amount of some of the world’s healthiest things. And not because I should, but because I like them.

sardines

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