La Marinata is something truly delicious and surprisingly easy to prepare. By far the most appetising of antipasti, it is essentially raw fish which is safe to eat when prepared the Sicilian way.
When I first tasted la marinata at a fish market slash illegal restaurant a local friend took me to, I was a little hesitant.
‘This is raw fish,’ he said as he wolfed down fork-fulls of the stuff.
‘But you can’t eat raw fish!’ I stupidly replied.
When we had finished the huge plate they had placed in the middle of the table, per condividere, I was converted. I had been blown away by the texture and delicate taste of items I would have only ever tasted well cooked in a sauce of some variety.
Alici Marinate (Marinated Anchovies)
There were prawns, anchovies, octopus and perhaps best of all, thin slices of big fish such as tuna and swordfish.
The Italian confided that he had come here especially for la marinata and now I saw why. It was the freshest tasting food I had eaten in years and I wanted to know how to make it.
That, as it turned out, was the easy part.
The seafood is basically left to marinate for a few hours in lemon juice then served with parsley, a little chopped garlic, sometimes a sprinkling of peperoncino. There are other ingredients too however, and they remain a mystery, as the best places to eat this incredible starter pride themselves on its quality.
Neonate are tiny new born fish about the size of a matchstick which are sometimes included in marinata dishes. At 20 Euro per kilo they are expensive but 80-100 grams per person is adequate.
All in all when you’re eating in Italy the message is: Don’t be afraid of the antipasti! Ask for “Un antipasto misto” and they will bring you whatever is fresh. Eat all the raw fish you can find is my advice. Expect to pay about 10-15 Euros for a big plate which can be divided between two.
John P Brady writes fiction, articles and a blog about life in Italy, where he has chosen to make his home. His first book, a collection, entitled Back to the Gaff has been recently published by Roadside Fiction. It concerns the wild happenings in Dublin by night and documents the attitudes of the youth in modern Irish society. Keep up to date with his writing by subscribing:
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Back to the Gaff
Scandalous Narratives of Contemporary Ireland
Back to the Gaff is a book by new author John P Brady, which describes the excessive and outrageous nature of Irish night life. Meet an array of eccentric individuals who populate the bars of Dublin, living lives of decadence and abandon. Their frolics inevitably lead to a trip ‘back to the gaff,’ which in Dublin-speak means gravitating towards someone’s place of residence where the depravity continues.