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Jamie's Italy

(article, Jamie Oliver)

h3. From the chapter "Fish"


h1. About the book and author


Jamie Oliver is a household name in Britain, where, among other things, he's spearheaded an effort to rework the school-lunch program to include more fresh and wholesome foods — and in so doing has made enemies of a group of mothers who feel their children should be entitled to eat whatever food they want. 

The author of many cookbooks and the star of several TV shows, including "The Naked Chef," Oliver also runs a series of restaurants called Fifteen, which provide training for at-risk young people. He is ebullient and knowledgeable about cooking with organic foods. 

In Jamie's Italy, Oliver's new travelogue cookbook, Oliver befriends the locals — the market owners, the farmers, and the fishermen — and encourages his readers to get to know their own food purveyors, wherever they may be located.

Excerpt from Jamie's Italy by Jamie Oliver. Copyright © 2006 Jamie Oliver. All rights reserved. Published by Hyperion.


If I’ve learned anything from the Italians about fish, it is definitely that “less is more.” 

Even inland, in regions like Le Marche and in Tuscany, they might get fish coming to the market only once a week, but it’s still damn fresh and smells of the sea and is bound to make dinner a bit of an event on that day.

I was quite surprised at the number of seaside restaurants in Italy that don’t have a menu, like La Scaletta, run by my friend Giovanni on the island of Marettimo. He literally waits till eight or nine in the morning, when the boats come in, and says, “Whatever God brings me, I will cook!” 

Of course, not having all the choice in the world does make you think cleverly about what you can do with what you’ve got. Even on a rough day when there’s no catch, Giovanni will use preserved fish, which he keeps in his larder. Maybe half the problem these days is that we have too much choice and not enough quality. Which got me thinking that I wanted to keep the recipes in this chapter really simple. I’ve done this by adding some delicate twists to plainly cooked fish. There’s nothing in this chapter that I don’t think you could achieve, so give them all a go. 

However, before you get down to cooking, there’s one thing I’d like you to do for me . . . get to know your local fish store, be it a supermarket or an independent. If their fish smells “fishy” and not of the sea, then have a word and tell them you’d support them if they had less choice and better quality. I’m sorry to say there are too many halfwits selling second-rate fish in Britain and the U.S. these days. It shouldn’t have to be like that. 


h1. Featured recipes


Take a city like London, for example. It’s one of the biggest cities in the world, yet there are only a handful of fishmongers that come up to the mark. (In case you’re wondering, my favorites are Kensington Place and the Fishworks chain.) Young kids growing up all around our country think fish smells fishy, because that’s the reality of the fish on offer to us in most places. 

So what I’d like to ask you to do is stop putting up with substandard products — be a bit more Italian and have your say on a regular basis. What fish stores and supermarkets alike will have to start doing then is worrying about quality, not quantity. If we all have a go, you’ll be surprised at how many shops, restaurants, and businesses will look at what they’re doing because they have to listen to their customers. Let’s make it happen!

reference-image, l