It’s no secret that I love aubergines, or eggplants as some of you call them, or … well for argument’s sake let’s call them melanzane, the Italian word. So, it’s no secret that I love melanzane and would probably eat them every day, if I could. When cooked properly, they have the same mouth-puckering strength as a quality mature cheese. It’s no secret that I love cheese, or fromage, or … well let’s call it formaggio.
Located right on the border with Slovenia, Trieste, in the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, has all the characteristics of a frontier town. The city has always been at the centre of an historical crossroads with the Venetians, Slavs, Austrians, and Italians all laying claim to it during its two-thousand-year history. Unsurprisingly all of these people have left their mark on the city, its culture, and of course, its food.
Last year, you may remember, I was in Padua searching for its most famous traditional cake whilst waiting for the rain to stop. It was almost impossible to find the pazientina but a long search led me to one of the last patisseries still making it and the only one I could find. Imagine my surprise then when a few days ago I came across the cake in Venice.
This weekend I had some friends from out of town visiting and wanted to cook something typically Venetian. I planned to serve the mazzancolle in saor from the last post, a risotto al nero di seppia—more about that in a later post—but what about the dessert? Everyone loves tiramisù it’s true, but I am a little bored making it. So I decided to come up with a completely original dessert. Something within the Venetian tradition and connected with the city’s rich history and culture. And so the Tintoretto was born.
An early morning trip to the Rialto fish market in Venice is always a treat. This morning, after coffee and a croissant at my favourite coffee bar in Venice, Torrefazione Cannaregio, I hopped across the Grand Canal at the Santa Sofia, traghetto (a traditional gondola ferryboat) and on to the fish market. I was in search of mazzancolle a type of king prawn in order to make one of the most Venetian of dishes, mazzancolle in saor.
Venice is a city that most experience on foot. Even those residents that have boats do an awful lot of walking and most of that on unforgiving flagstones, and bridges that rise and fall five feet in space of a few yards.
With all that walking, especially in the summer when temperatures regularly top 30 degrees celsius, it would seem a good idea to stop every now and again, pop into a shady bar, and have a drink and perhaps a restorative bite. Well, Venetians would agree and this is how cichéti a typically Venetian snack food came to be.