“Same shit, different day” – that’s how life goes right?
This weekend I had a serious case of itchy feet syndrome and I don’t mean in the athlete’s foot kind of way. I often get bored of staying in the same place for a long time and boredom combined with a few nicely timed Italian national holidays had me scampering off to a different city for a few days.
So what better place to go at Christmas time in Italy than Salerno? Home of the Luci d’Artista – the Christmas lights festival.
Now although I was excited to see the lights, I was even more excited to taste the food. Having never been to Salerno before I was interested to see what tasty treats they had to offer and given that Salerno lies just below Naples on the coast I was expecting lots of seafood.
I was half right.
I only dined in one restaurant while I was there so I don’t know if this is the norm or they were just running low on seafood and decided to bullshit me when I asked for fish but this is how the conversation with the waitress went:
- Me: I’ll have the spaghetti alle vongole (clams)
- Waitress: So the spaghetti with clams without the clams…
- Me: No with clams
- Waitress: The spaghetti with clams comes without the clams here because traditionally it was a cucina povera dish so they sold the clam meat and kept the shells as decoration.
- Me: So you’re charging me more to not have the clams?
- Waitress: it’s the traditional recipe
- Me: I’ll have the calamarata instead
So turns out I read the menu wrong, it actually read: spaghetti alle vongole fujute – fujute as I later found out is the Salerno word for escaped. Preferring my fish to stay firmly on the plate instead of making a bid for freedom, I opted for the calamarta instead which is a type of pasta so-called because it looks like calamari rings. The dish was described as being cooked in an anchovy sauce with cannellini beans and black pepper but to be honest when it arrived I thought the anchovies had done a runner as well because it was pretty bland.
So after paying €13 for a plate of pasta (I usually pay 7) and feeling well and truly swindled I decided to recreate the dish Two Hobs, No Oven style. I went to the nearest pasta shop and bought 250g of fresh, hand-made calamarata which to my surprise only cost €1.50 (a bag of dried pasta costs about 50¢) and a jar of beans for €1. So for a maximum price of €3 I made the same meal but waaaaayyyyy tastier for 2 people.
Ingredients for 2:
- 250g of calamarata (mezze maniche will do if you can’t find calamarata)
- 1 jar of cannellini beans
- 3 anchovy fillets
- black pepper
- half a clove of garlic
- 1 sage leaf
- Bring a pan of salted water to the boil
- In a frying pan put some olive oil, chopped garlic and the anchovies fillets, let the ingredients flavour the oil for a minute or two
- Add the beans and a splash of water and simmer for 5 minutes then add the sage and a lot of black pepper
- Once the water has boiled, add the calamarata, if it’s fresh it only needs 4/5 mins.
- Once the calamarata is al dente, drain and keep a a cup of the pasta water
- By now the beans and water should have a made a sauce, add the pasta to the sauce and a splash of pasta water and stir
- Stir until the beans and pasta have mixed together.
And there you have it, calamarata con fagioli e alici!
My version on the LEFT, the restaurant version on the RIGHT
Work that hob and Walk unafraid people!!