Sicilian artichoke and tuna stew  


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Artichokes, Santa Cruz News.

After Pablo Neruda

Find a tuna among the market vegetables, a solitary man of war. Pair it with artichokes, their sides burnished as grenades. Take them in your market basket, home to the deep soup pot. I am envisioning a Sicilian fish stew, one where you start by sauteeing the small diced onion and smashed cloves of garlic (two, maybe, or three) in olive oil that smells of the dusty October hillsides where it was harvested. After the onion and garlic have scented the kitchen, stir in the baby artichokes, two dozen or so cut into quarters, and stir them sizzling but not burning for a good five minutes. Then it will be time to splash in half a dozen crushed tomatoes, red with the blood of the New World from which they came, along with the chopped green celery stalk and its leaves, and the bright bitter parsley — enough to bring summer into this autumn dish.

You will stir this with salt and pepper (“to taste,”as all of the good books say), half a glass of white wine, a cup of stock (fish or vegetable) and simmer for half an hour, while you turn back to the noble tuna, the missile that has become a missive, a letter from Pablo Neruda to your kitchen. Now you must bravely cut the tuna into one-inch pieces, of a size to cook quickly and tenderly, each piece a word, and all of them together a pound of the red muscles that propelled the tuna through the deeps. When the artichokes have let down their guard and are al dente, slip the tuna chunks into the pot, and quickly toast some slices of ciabbata that have been brushed with more of the olive oil. They will be done at the same time, the tuna and the toasted bread, and you may ladle the stew over the slice of bread in the bottom of each bowl. Some would fling more parsley atop the stew, or a lemon aioli, or some other garnish. You must be the judge. Take the bowls outside, sit with them under the fig tree in the evening, and drink a wine from the slopes of Mt. Aetna with your meal.

Artichoke, tuna —
Neruda immortalized
you. I make a stew.

Northern blue-fin tuna.

Pablo Neruda, Ode to a Large Tuna in a Market; Ode to the Artichoke

My thanks to the poets of “Ten Poets” in Anchorage for their thoughtful and helpful comments.
This entry was posted in 2014, Food journeys, Sicily and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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