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Grilled dentex: the epic of roast

(Dentice in graticola: ovvero l'"epica" dell'arrosto)


In this very hot season, when the maximum closeness of Sirio to the earth leads men (particularly women, according to Greeks) being taken of passions to desire (and make) uncommon things, even the more risque and trasgressive, well in this situation of trasgressions please allow me a licence: Alessi, "the old", the dreamer, impenitent (and pleasure-loving) poet of the stoves; I would like to tell you a story of cooking.
It can be defined an exciting adventure, absolutely out of standard. A wild experience, we can say also bloody: in any case you will not forget it. This story brings us back to the "holy meal" of the ancient primordial world. This story begins in the enchanted sea, the mythical Tirreno sea of the sirens; a bare and indented small island of the Tuscany archipelago, a small ravine of immaculate coast. The water is limpid, the small beach is clean and desert, still natural. There are some dry trunks, brought by the enraged waves, they are partly dipped in sand or embedded in the rocks, reduced to a skeleton, with their contorted branches desolately bare.
There are high and eroded rocks (like precipices) to define the sides and bushes, positioned at the feet of the steep slope, luxuriant.
A salty wind is blowing, it seems it wants to permeate you, while there is a patient fisherman sitting with his cane on the rocks in front of the wide, calm and primordial sea. There such a calm in the surroundings, the "world" is far away, but the hunger is impending over the fisherman! Be careful: here it is, it is ery big! Now it is aken: it is a beautiful dentex and will weights more than a kg. Prepare a fire, with the dry wood on the beach and let it burn, while the wriggling quarry, gasping outside from the water and looking at the fire, is desperately dying.
After a while the fire decreases its intensity, like the vitality of the fish with its body curved. Fatally, epical, a tragedy consumes on the pleasant beach in front of the nature. Some traes remain: alive and burning embers and ductile dead flesh.
Now clutch the stiff fish with the greedy and impious hand, open its belly and take out the entrails; pull away the bloody branchiae and cut off the red flippers. Then, starting from the tail, using a knife, scrape the tenacious and silver scales from the back of the fish and deeply engrave, with horrible cross cuts, the delicate flesh of its beautiful sides.
It is atrocious, we know, all this ceremony and macabre and sad is the ritual, but the status of human beings requires it, and it is not in our power to renounce. "…ciò che fece la natura (uccelli, pesci, bestie, arbori, erbe e fiori) perisce per mantener la nosra misera vita, anto è violento e difficile il poterla sostenere…" (G.M. Bonardo, cit. da Camporesi, 1980)

Finally, with care, bring it for the last time to its native sea and dip it once again in the waves to wash it for the last time, then leave it to become impregnated with the salty water. Now to the fire! To the fire, bring it so dripping of water: lay it over the grill and do not season it. Stir up the fire and lay the fish over it for 10-12 minutes of cheerful grilling, bathing it several times only with the sea water. Now you have to turn it without wasting the crunchy skin; with care scrape it very well and then turn it over the other side and let it cook for 10-12 minutes bathing as previously described.

Now the fish is nearly cooked: the devourer fire, replete of exuded quintessence is quite dozed off; do not wake it up. The fish over the grill, now (5-6 minutes for each side) has to simmer without further seasoning.
Also these last minutes have passed, you can admire your fish! It has become a precious jewel: in fact its body is gilded and the eye… is like the satin silver of a pearl!

A Giuseppe Alessi recipe
Translated by Gianna Toni

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