December 4

Have you ever noticed these two ‘bollards’ just by the Cannaregio Canal in Venice? It looks like they are there to stop cars driving into the canal, only as everybody knows there are no cars in Venice. So what are they there for? 

Here are some clues: they are actually pretty old; if you look carefully there is an indentation in the top of them; and the location is known as the Pescaria di Cannaregio, the old Cannaregio fish market.

If you’d turned up there a couple of hundred years ago, you’d have seen people sitting next to them beating something with a hammer on top of them. This something was baccalà, air-dried stockfish imported from Norway. Beating it with a hammer was how they used to tenderize it to allow its use in cooking. Neat huh?

Today baccalà tends to be tenderized by soaking it in water but it can still be enjoyed in the bars and restaurants of Venice. 

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