Roasted eels and stewed red Acquaviva onions, with a salmoriglio sauce made with capers, cherry tomatoes al filo*, lemon zest and freshly pressed extra virgin olive oil from Donato Vinci’s inn Tempio dei Gusti in Fasano (Brindisi), tel. +39.080.4393838
Christmas is coming and we can already smell the scent of the laurel leaves burnt on the slack. We’re in Fasano, at Donato Vinci’s inn Tempio dei Gusti, tel. +39.080.4393838, for a rare food: wild local eel, fished from a small river by Vito and his son Paolo in Torre Canne, in the province of Brindisi. The chef has roasted the eel in a wood oven, using a spit of dry but very aromatic wild fennel. The scent is exciting, it makes you recall keeping company with one’s grandfather, as a child, while he was roasting outside, on the slack.
Why is this a “rare” food? According to Cites, eel is in “critical danger”, that is one step before extinction. Those of which we speak today are not farmed animals, but wild ones, fished every year, in this period, by the fishermen of three small spring-water lakes in Torre Canne. Every year these teleost fishes return, just like in the nearby and larger lakes of Lesina and Varano.
Vito e Paolo Sacco, father and son, eel fishermen
*cherry tomatoes al filo are tomatoes that are kept hanging on a piece of string (filo) throughout the winter. It is an ancient way of preserving tomatoes common in Southern Italy. [TN]
The truths of the fish world revealed by Antonio Vasile. Against a thousand lies and dangerous commonplaces