Nazario Biscotti

crediti: Brambilla - Serrani

crediti: Brambilla - Serrani

Le Antiche Sere

via Pietro Micca, 22
Lesina (Foggia)
t: +39.0882.991942
info@leantichesere.it 

Not only was he born and raised in front of the lake waters of Lesina, North of Gargano, but here he would run around as a kid (the temperament of a daredevil), among the nets tied by his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, even on his mother’s side, three generations of fishermen. Hence the reason why Nazario Biscotti, patron-chef at Antiche Sere, is first of all a guardian and protector of the lake and then a cook is explained.

Childhood memories taste of paranze (heaps of nets) thrown in September, after the village’s fishermen met for the draw thanks to which the crew would win a part of the lake. That perimeter of freshwater thus enclosed more than the catch: the entire substance of the family assets, nourishment, trade and relief from poverty, until January. Family matters, like the nets made with white cotton that was planted harvested dried by the lake people and then hand worked so it became soft and they could make nets of it and then paint it. A different era, before nylon, synthetic looms and perhaps even poachers. Yet today, as in the past, the chef keeps vigil so the nets have large tangles, so the avanotti, that is to say the small fish, are left free, so that the lake’s fauna can regenerate and continue to feed the village with its 6 thousand inhabitants, the fishermen’s families and the guests at Antiche Sere.

Nazario Biscotti, born in 1966, stamped the mark of this story in his cuisine, which has been served since 1999 at number 22 in Via Pietro Micca. A self-trained chef with a little melancholy in his eyes, the author of a fish-based menu made with mullet, smelt, green crabs, lagoon prawns, large eels and eels and capable of making even the emperor happy. One of the home treasures is the home made bottarga which implies a gradual preparatory ritual that starts from removing the bottarga from the fish (mullet, of course) and then processing it with a technique he learnt when travelling to Corsica with his father Primiano (a name which is a devout tribute to the patron saint of Lesina), «I massage it with my hands until the egg lumps become creamy», and finally the drying without salt so as to preserve it and keep a stock lasting all year long.

Yet to our days no other dish better explains Biscotti’s cooking and the lake seduction of this Apulia in between many different Apulias, like his Eel carpaccio with saffron. One of the most adventurous fish, with a migrating soul. It is born in the oceanic prairies between the Antilles and the Azores and from there, from the distant Sargasso Seas (topos of proverbial and out-dated curses) arrives in the Mediterranean Sea, after a long stop in the brackish water of lagoons such as that of Lesina, where it becomes an adult. The chef’s Carpaccio is a dish that presents the eel’s entire journey in a mouthful, it tastes of childhood and of awesome trips into time: stale bread, orange, smoked salt, saffron pistils, freshly ground pepper and sturgeon bottarga. The secret ingredient is the respectful reserve with which he uses raw materials, a characterising trait for this lake chef, this guardian of tradition.

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by

Sonia Gioia

A journalist by profession, curious by vocation, she applies her attitude to investigative reports and food features. She's the author of unpocodibuono for Repubblica