The Strait of Messina is at all times busy – particularly in July. Ferry boats – some carrying vehicles and lorries, others deconstructed trains – travel between Villa San Giovanni in Calabria and the port of Messina, 168 instances a day, apparently, when you depend all of the completely different corporations. We inform the identical story each time we make the 7km journey: that Vincenzo’s grandmother, Lilla, as soon as swam the strait. Though, if that’s true, and we hope it’s, she in all probability crossed the narrowest level, between Capo Peloro and Cannitello, which continues to be 3.2km and a bottleneck of robust tides and whirlpools. We additionally discuss in regards to the best suspension bridge by no means constructed and what we must always have for lunch.
Greek colonists named town of Messina Ζάγκλη, or Zankle, as a result of its pure harbour is formed like a scythe. It does really feel like crusing into an embrace and is an efficient technique to arrive in Sicily. The harbour can be a means of conserving your bearings §within the metropolis. Lose the odor of the ocean, and it’s possible you’ll get misplaced in your technique to lunch.
We have been determined by the point we arrived, late for lunch, and I requested for a desk, any desk, telling the person who appeared just like the proprietor that we’d eat something they introduced us. It was a aid for everybody once I stopped speaking and two mats and units of cutlery have been laid on a desk outdoors a spot referred to as Casa e Putia. A couple of minutes later, two squares of frittata – one plain, the opposite inexperienced with spinach – arrived, and the identical man reassured us that, whereas the kitchen was nonetheless open and that we might order no matter we needed, he recommended the swordfish. Moments of pleasure are sometimes a mix of aid (a desk), satisfaction (frittata) and letting others determine.
The swordfish had been fished the night time earlier than, from the strait just some hundred metres from the place we have been sitting. A thick, sq. steak, it was grilled, and essentially the most satisfying swordfish I’ve ever eaten. Simply pretty much as good and memorable have been the greens – griddled courgette and aubergine. However, slightly than being massive slices dressed with olive oil, salt and red-wine vinegar, they have been lower into 1cm ribbons, just a little (abnormal, however nice) element to be copied greater than as soon as.
It has been 4 instances now, and having made the recipe my very own, it has modified a bit, which can be because of the assorted completely different caponata and sweet-and-sour aubergine dishes we ate in Sicily this summer season. Whereas the greens depend upon what is obtainable, courgette, aubergine and pink or yellow pepper is my favorite mixture. You do want a cast-iron griddle pan, or a wire rack balanced (fastidiously) on high of the gasoline hob or a barbecue, as a result of the contact with the metallic and searing is vital for each flavour and texture.
You might effectively have just a little candy and bitter syrup left. Maintain it, as a result of after sitting for some time, the greens could take just a little extra. 4 instances in, and I can verify that sweet-and-sour grilled greens usually are not solely good with fish, but in addition with hen, cheese and bread, and with the pork and lemon polpette from final week.
Candy-and-sour grilled greens
Prep 10 min
Cook dinner 20 min
1 pink or yellow pepper
3 tbsp red-wine vinegar
2 tbsp caster sugar
Reduce the courgettes and aubergines lengthways into 5mm-thick slices, and the pepper into massive, flat-as attainable items, discarding the stalk, seeds and white pith: it doesn’t actually matter the way you do that, as long as they’re of an identical thickness. Put all of them in a bowl and toss with olive oil.
Warmth a ridged griddle pan and, working in batches, lay the strips on the new base and prepare dinner till they’re delicate, cooked by means of and branded with strains, then flip and prepare dinner on the opposite facet. Elevate on to a plate.
In the meantime in a small pan, warmth the vinegar, sugar and a tablespoon of water and boil just a little to make a sweet-sour syrup.
Reduce the grilled greens into 1cm-wide ribbons and put them in a bowl. Add three tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt, then add the syrup progressively, tasting repeatedly, till the extent of candy and bitter fits you. Serve whereas nonetheless heat, or at room temperature.