Friday, 22 August 2014

A beautiful fish market in the heart of Menorca.....

I just wanted to share with you some photos I captured on my mobile from the beautiful eye opening fish markets in Cuitadella and Mao', in Menorca.

In the UK, we are conservative, we follow laws, wear gloves, hair nets and the rest of it. This way of handling fish just isn't seen in the UK, not with 'Health and Safety' and all that nonsense. The fish markets here are a way of life. Full of locals having their favourite catch filleted and cleaned. I felt so comfortable and wanted to jump behind the counter if only for a few minutes.  These fish mongers are incredibly knowledgeable and could turn their hand to any sea creature given. The noise and energy was immense and I became some what completely overwhelmed. I stood, stared and tried my best to absorb every action........I think I may have made the fishmongers a little uncomfortable but to be honest, I was in absolute ore of them working.

From fresh tuna to monk-fish, octopus, eel, catfish, swordfish,  sardines, squid, prawns and some ugly looking creatures I had never seen, nor would I choose to eat!! I loved every single minute, wish I could jump on that infamous 'Magic carpet', and be back in the somewhat fragrant market again. 

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Fichi d' India - the fruity prickly pear.

So many names for these beautiful yet incredibly fierce fruits. I'm not really sure where I should begin, Let's start with 'Prickly pears' this is what they are known as in the UK because they are covered in tiny ready to stab you ultra thin needles. In Italy they are called Fichi d' India. My family have always called them 'Ficcatini', a dialect name I'm sure.  Fichi love the heat and benefit from full sunshine. They grown with passion in the south of Italy and are loved by most if not all of my family in Puglia.

These voluptuous oval sweet like fruits are grown and picked from the top of the cactus plant. Incredibly beautiful with a variation of colour , white, yellow and red. You either love of hate them, I obviously adore these. Once ripe the Fichi are intensely sweet and full of copious amounts of tiny seeds which are all edible. They simply need to be peeled with care and eaten, I often wash them first to remove as many prickles as I can, then on go the latex gloves to fully peel the jackets away and discard. On a recent holiday to Menorca I must have consumed over 20 Fichi (over a 3 week period), and picked a further 40 to bring back home to the UK. 

I was passed a traditional recipe from to make a liquor using these very fruits. I eagerly filled a large cereal box with Fichi to the brim and wrapped it very generously in bin liners and packed it in my hand luggage to bring home to the UK. They survived the trip and within 48 hours I started the process to make this delicious liquor.
Peeled, mashed and steeped in alcohol for 2 weeks. I now need to pour the mixture through some muslin to remove the seeds and any pulp. Make and cool a sugar syrup. Combine the two and leave to infuse for at least four weeks.  

Carmela x