I thought I was in love with Piero, but I was in love with Sicily. I went back to see him that fall, and again the next summer. He wanted me to move in with him. Once, in the summer, next to the cornflower sea, I asked him, “But what would we do in the winter?” He said, “We’ll stay at home, cook pasta, and steam up the windows.” I went back to Los Alamos, gave six months’ notice, and numbered the days till I could be in Sicily again.
~ Mattanza: Love and Death in the Sea of Sicily by Theresa Maggio
Mattanza: Love and Death in the Sea of Sicily by Theresa Maggio is about the ancient Sicilian ritual of bluefin tuna fishing, off the coast of the island of Favignana, where it is said Calypso rescued a shipwrecked Odysseus. Every spring, schools of giant bluefin tuna would swim to this location, to reproduce; and ever since the Stone Age, fishermen would go through a ceremonial trapping and killing of these giant fish. When the book first came out, this type of fishing style was a dying tradition. Today, it’s extinct.
This is one of my all-time favorite books. I read it a few years ago and every once in a while I pick it up to reread. I enjoyed the book because it’s more than a fishing story. Mattanza is a combination of memoir, natural history and travelogue.
Maggio describes everything so vividly and beautifully – from the fishing custom, her love story, the people she meets on the island, to her relationship with them and the fishermen – that I couldn’t help but be fascinated. I couldn’t help but want to know more. Mattanza is a powerful, captivating story of man, fish, life, death and love.
Perhaps, I should have prepared some kind of tuna meal. However, I loved Piero’s response, above, to Theresa and felt like preparing a simple pasta dish – Pasta, Chickpeas, Onions and Oregano. This is a favorite recipe. I used whole grain spaghetti, oregano, thyme and chili garlic sauce. Mixed together with the spaghetti, the meal was delicious. Making pasta and steaming up the windows during winter (or anytime of the year) sounds like a good idea to me.
This is my contribution to the 18th edition of Novel Food, hosted by Simona of Briciole. I’ll return later in the week to provide a link to her roundup list of those who participated in today’s Novel Food.
Ed. Note: You can find a list of other participants in the 18th edition of Novel Food HERE. Check it out!
Pasta with Chickpeas, Onions and Oregano
as seen on Lucullian Delights
400-500 g/14-17,5 ounce pasta
1 can of chickpeas
a good pinch of dried oregano. You can also use thyme or other herbs
chili pepper, optional
extra-virgin olive oil
While the pasta cooks, slice the onion and cook them gently in a skillet for 3-4 minutes.
Add the chickpeas, oregano and a little chili pepper and go on cooking for another 8-10 minutes. If you want, you can mash a part of the chickpeas with a fork. Squeeze a little lemon juice over.
Drain the pasta a minute before it is cooked and add it to the skillet, stir and cook for a minute and then serve.