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stockfish, or wind-dried cod

Not to be confused with baccalá (salt cod), although people in the Veneto often do just that; baccalá alla vicentina, which should be made with stockfish (wind-dried cod) is a popular Christmas dish in Vicenza. It gets its very un-Italian name from the Dutch for ‘stick fish’, either because of the scaffolding used to dry it or the texture of the drid cod when it’s dry.

It was a Venetian nobleman, Pietro Querini, stranded with his crew for months on Norway's Lofoten island in 1432, who first watched the annual rite of cod caught in the Barents Sea from January to April. The catch would then be left to dry in the wind until it become 'as dry as wood.'

Querini brought 50 barrels back to Venice, beginning a taste for it along the Adriatic—which spread to Naples, Liguria and Nice. Even today Lofoten exports thousands of tons to Italy every year, and attracts Italian tourists along the 'stockfish trail'.

Stoccafisso all'Anconetana is the seafood speciality of Ancona in the Marche, cooked with potatoes, tomatoes, verdicchio wine and lots of olive oil. They're so proud of it they have established an academy to glorify the dish.

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Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Image by Paolo Tonon