In restaurants around the world, Italian food is forced into the menu straightjacket of Starter, Main Course, and Dessert, a holy trinity that doesn’t exist in Italy. The result is that dishes are found on the wrong part of the menu, leading the diner to fundamentally misunderstand how Italian food is, and is meant to be eaten, as well as missing out on the much vaunted benefits of an Italian diet.
Cotolete de sardele (or cotolette di sarde in Italian) is another dish I tried for the first time in Venice while researching cichéti and discovering that I liked sardines, It’s simple, can be prepared in a few minutes and served as an appetizer, starter, or even a main course depending on the quantity.
I came to this dish very late, which is a surprise since it is one of the classic dishes of Venetian cuisine, and a pity since I have been missing it all my life. From just before my teenage years until adulthood, I wouldn’t touch fish on principle since I knew I didn’t like it, despite evidence to the contrary. For example, I remember at the age of about ten being fed what my parents told me was prosciutto di parma. It was delicious, but turned out to be smoked salmon.