Eolian cuisine

Eolian cuisine is inspired, changeable, variegated, full of unifying and contrasting moods at the same time, thanks to the incredible concentration of history, culture, and customs that have gradually followed one another.
In every dish there is ancient wisdom which the Eolian islanders have managed to enrich, elaborate and transform, until they make it an original and unrepeatable gastronomic experience.
The principal characteristic of Eolian cuisine is the constant and wise use of fragrant herbs, which fill every dish with scent, hidden sensations, shadowy moods: rosemary, oregano, basil, garlic, ‘nepitella’, mint along with summer lemon peel, tomatoes ‘a pennula’ and, obviously, capers.
Fish is central to every meal, simply grilled and seasoned with a little oil and a drop of lemon or stuffed with tomato, basil, garlic, capers and a little soaked bread crumb. Of equal importance are squid and lobster.
Cakes are also symbols of holidays: at carnival time the ‘gigi’, for Saint Joseph’s Day the ‘vastidduzze’ with raisins and almonds, for Christmas the ‘spicchitedi’ made with mulled wine.
Finally, lemon liqueur and malmsey, ‘nectar of the Gods’, before and after meals, along with sesame biscuits.
The recipes below are not only from traditional cuisine, and nor could they be, both because of the history of the island and their re-population, and the development of recent years, which has influenced culinary customs.

They are a mixture of typical cuisine and revised cuisine, but with respect for tradition.

Ingredients for 4 people: 8 slices of smoked swordfish ‘à la julienne’ 1 large juicy orange (cut into segments without pith) 1 large ripe lemon (cut into segments without pith) 7 spoonfuls of extra-virgin olive oil 2 spoonfuls of capers 2 spoonfuls of white vinegar 1 tuft of chopped basil and mint 12 peeled almonds ‘à la julienne’ Paprika and salt as required Preparation: Put together all the ingredients and mix them for a few minutes with the dressing made with the oil, capers, vinegar, herbs and almonds, adding salt and pepper. Serve cool. Recipe from the restaurant ‘Filippino’.
A very simple pasta dish whose particular taste comes from the very small round tomatoes, typical of the Eolian islands, which the locals ‘hang up’ in large conical baskets, so they can be eaten in winter too. Ingredients: only tomato ‘a scocca’ or ‘pennula’, typical of the Eolian islands must be used; extra-virgin olive oil, basil and garlic, just a pinch of oregano and paprika. In a large frying pan, fry a generous helping of garlic (which is then taken out) and a good bit of paprika. Then put in the tomatoes, cut in half, with their skins but without pips, and let them dry out on a high flame with a little salt and oregano. After draining the spaghetti mix it in the frying pan and generously sprinkle freshly chopped basil. If you like you can add grated ricotta. Taken from ‘Cucina Eoliana’ Pungitopo Publishers.
This is a traditional Mediterranean recipe, but the Eolian scorpion fish are unequalled for taste. Ingredients: 2 Scorpion weighing about 500 grams 3 small onions 3 ripe tomatoes 8 green olives 1 spoonful of capers 1 tuft of parsley basil leaves 1/2 glass of dry white wine 3 spoonfuls of olive oil toasted bread, pepper and salt. Preparation and cooking time: 45 minutes. Gut the scorpion fish, cut off all the prickly fins, scale them, wash them in running water and leave them to drip. Clean the onions and slice them finely; wash the tomatoes, remove the skins and seeds and cut them into small cubes; remove the stones from the olives, wash and finely chop the basil and parsley. Heat the olive oil in a pan, brown the onions, add the olives and tomatoes and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the scorpion fish, the capers and the chopped herbs. Pour in the white wine and a glass of water and cook in the covered pan for about 30 minutes. 10 minutes before the end of cooking, add salt and pepper as desired and end the cooking by removing the lid. Serve with croutons of toasted bread. Recipe of the restaurant ‘Filippino’.
Every Eolian islander worth his salt goes fishing for ‘totani’ one night a month. Even when there is no other fish on the island, ‘totani’ can be found. The ‘totano’ is a fat and tough type of squid, with a ‘wild’ taste, and much appreciated by gourmets. Cooking in sauces and stewing is best for this fish. The filling suggested here is very simple, typically Eolian and exalts the prince of fishes of these islands. You can vary it according to your taste, mood and desire to amaze your guests. Ingredients: One large ‘totano’ per person Tomato sauce Parsley Plenty of mint Garlic Desalinised capers Bread crumbs Two eggs Black pepper, green olives. Clean the ‘totani’, cutting off the tentacles and leaving the hood whole to be filled. Cook the tentacles in oil. Add salt and a little wine and cook on a low flame for a while. Take the fish out of the pan and, on a low flame, with more oil, fry two cloves of crushed garlic. Then add the tomato sauce, the chopped parsley, and a little salt. Let the sauce cook a little. In the meantime prepare the stuffing with two beaten eggs, bread crumbs, the olives cut into pieces, the black pepper, the chopped capers and the tentacles. Fill the fish, close it with toothpicks or, better still, with a needle and thread and cook it as long as necessary in the tomato sauce. It can also be cooked in the oven in a baking-pan with oil and a little white wine. In this case, it is advisable not to use eggs in the stuffing, but to add more mint, basil and some desalinised anchovies. Some advice: to make them softer, before stuffing them fry them for a moment to dry them out and make them lose all their water. Another way of stuffing them is to prepare the filling with the tentacles, egg, parsley, pieces of melted cheese, bread crumbs, grated parmesan, peas, celery and carrots cut into small pieces. An original stuffing – the fish should be cooked in a frying -pan, over a low heat, with a chopped onion in the oil, a drop of white wine, a leaf of laurel and a thin strip of fish. Taken from ‘Cucina Eoliana’ Pungitopo Publishers.
A typical Eolian cake made during carnival. Ingredients for six people: Flour 500g. Lard 100g. Two egg yolks Sugar 75g. Half a glass of white wine A glass of mulled wine Mix the flour, lard, egg yolks and sugar until you obtain a soft, smooth mixture. Leave the mixture to settle for about 15 minutes, then roll it out in thin sticks and cut these into pieces of a centimetre each. Then take a deep frying-pan and put it on a high flame gradually putting the pieces of mixture into deep oil, turning them from time to time, until they turn golden. After frying all the pieces dip them in a small pan of warm mulled wine, turn them twice and then lay them out on an oval plate dusting them with sugar. Recipe of the restaurant ‘Filippino’.