Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Snapshot Rome: Fish - Trionfale Market

I need to learn how to cook fish.

Once in a while I would buy shrimp or salmon at the Gelson fish counter when I lived in L.A. Not sure why I didn't buy/cook fish more often.

I grew up eating fish every single Friday. My dad went to Catholic schools but my mom was/is Methodist. I'm not sure where the fish every Friday tradition came from. One dish I had no love for was fish head soup. Pass.

Of course having Caribbean parents, we had to eat what they ate. There was no "kids menu" at our house. When we got older, like in high school, sometimes my mom would say she was thinking about making either one dish or the other and would ask our opinion. Other than that, nope. My mom was not running a restaurant. If you didn't like what she made, guess you weren't eating that night.

Growing up in the islands, fish was a big part of my parents' diet. My dad was Mr. Breakfast on weekends and sometimes we would have fish then as well.

I happened to buy sardines the other week and eating them reminded me of Sunday breakfasts in Jersey.

Now that I'm surrounded by excellent fishmongers, I need to step up my fish game. heh

To be honest, I'm a little overwhelmed by all the choices. I'm slowly learning the Italian names for different types of fish and my goal is to try a "new" fish every month. I have never cooked a whole fish. This is one of my personal Top Chef Challenges for 2011.


Sonia @ My Sweet Monkey said...

I had never cooked a whole fish until last year. i still hate touching them but they sure are delicious! You should try baking one in rock salt. It's super easy.

homebody at heart said...

It surely must peak your interest in cooking them when the fish are so artfully displayed!

Gil said...

Having Caribbean parents sounds just like having Italian-American parents like I had. We had no choice other from what my mother cooked. My father grew up in da'Bronx, spent Summers on Staten Island and went to medical school in Naples. This he loved all kinds of fish and usually cooked what he bought at the local docks here on the Connecticut shore. My wife is a great cook and we have fish pretty often. I just wish that we had the availability of fresh fish here as you have.

Sherry said...

I have never cooked a whole fish but want to. That array of fish looks amazing.

P.S. I feel you on the sardines. My husband thinks it's strange that I eat those for breakfast but that was a normal part of my Jamaican upbringing. My favorite fish dish for any time of day is saltfish and ackee hands down.

Erica said...

No "kid menu"??!! You mean your parents didn't cater to your every whim? wow.

I love your fish counter and would suggest that you join me next week in purchasing those odd snail things (sciungilli, i believe) that I am dying to cook. xox

J.Doe said...

I don't think many people eat sardines or any other type of fish for breakfast. Too bad.
I remember how grossed out several of my friends were when they discovered that me (and my family) ate certain types of fish for breakfast.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

sonia - I have a few rock salt recipes. It's seems easy and the fishmonger does clean the fish for you.

homebody - I noticed that too.

gil - exactly. The only time we had a choice was when we went to a restaurant.

sherry - I like saltfish too. And salfish cakes?! sigh. The fish we eat the most in St. Martin is snapper.

Sardines are very popular in Italy. I don't really cook with them but love to eat them in the morning, with a few tomato slices and a nice piece of fresh bread from the bakery.

erica - it's shocking, no? They wouldn't even let us have MickyD's growing up. Tragic.

I will go with you next week but I'm not sure about those strange looking fish.

j. doe - it's a shame. Fish is so good for you and it's delicious. Not a fan of de-boning though, it's pain (sometimes literally). heh

gibber said...

Huh. When does everyone else eat sardines? I only see them as a breakfast treat. Sardines with tomato and some fresh lime juice. YUM.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

gibber - I thought of them that way until I moved here. There are A LOT of Italian dishes that use sardines.

At the market they sell fresh ones. Before I had only seen the canned version.

GGirl2 said...

As a West Indian woman, I can relate to 'not eating if you did not like what was in the pot'. Fish is very easy to cook once you get the hang of it so jump in with both feet and you will master it in no time.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

GGirl2 - I bought some sole today. We'll see what happens!

p.s. I'm swamped next week (in the middle of difficult re-write) but you can also try to send me a private message via Twitter.

Black Women in Europe said...

My Italian "boyfriend"'s mother taught me to cook fruiti de mare (I know I didn't spell that right). Your posts makes me want to cook it, today!

Would love to interview you for I so hope you are interested! If so please email me on


Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Woohoo on the Great Fish Challenge! I never liked anchovies until I moved here, and now I love them. We just had linguine with baccalĂ , pomodorini, and olives last night...super easy and delicious too!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

BWIE - I would like to try that dish as well but need to take baby steps first! I emailed you.

michelle - I should write a separate post about anchovies. I never had them (but claimed to dislike them) until I came here on vacation. Now I cook with them all the time. Yum.

Anonymous said...

I've just finished reading your blog from the very first post to this one, and now it feels like I know you (in a good friendly way, not a creepy stalker way). I LOVE your writing style, I've never read through the entire archives of a blog before! I'll be relocating to Rome in April for work (which is how I found your blog in the first place), I've never been to Italy before, speak almost no Italian, and have NO idea how to go about finding an apartment other than responding to ads online with badly translated English-to-Italian emails, which seems to be getting me nowhere. Do you have any tips for a lost soon-to-be-Roman?
- Maya

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

maya - thanks for reading and the compliment!

Can your job help you find a place? If your job is relocating you aren't they supposed to help you find an apartment, especially since you don't speak the language and have never visited Italy before?

If not, since you're arriving soon, maybe you should focus on a short term rental to get the lay of the land and then you can find a more permanent place.

Check out the website Wanted In Rome for apartments. The ads are listed in English. Also Craiglist Rome has some. There is a Yahoo group VCN that you can ask to join and people post about apartments (mostly looking for roommates though) there. Also expatinitaly. com is a great resource for moving aboard.

Once you're here there many English speaking expat organizations you can join if you want.

While many people speak English in Rome, I cannot stress enough how important it is to learn Italian if your job is not temporary.

Good luck with your move.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Maya - I received your second comment (wasn't sure if you wanted me to publish it)

Okay, so this is a temporary stay. See if you can get a vacation rental for a week or so then while you're here look for a place for the remaining time. Google to find vacation rentals, there a bunch of companies with websites. Check the Rome forums on to see how people rated certain apartments.

If you're going to be here for at least six months, I assume the company had to take care of your work visa. Shocked they're not being more helpful on the apartment front. Can't you use the company as a reference? They're the reason you're going to Rome in the first place.

girasoli said...

I think the Friday fish thing may be a Catholic thing. I grew up eating fish sticks every Friday night. Guess fancy fish was not my mom's thing OR maybe it was too expensive to feed 4 kids. I am amazed that I like fish today.

I still struggle when trying to cook fish and we have so many varieties of fresh fish here in Hawaii. I did buy a whole fish once. Turned out to be a disaster! I am sure you will do better. :)

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

girasoli - I haven't tried to cook a whole fish yet but I did have some success with fillets.