Spring is the right time to buy cuttlefish, it’s their season. This is clear in my mind when I enter the Genoa covered market (Mercato Orientale) almost breathless, arms already loaded with innumerable bags and a tired son hang up to one of them.
A swirling ride through the market benches – overflowing vegetables, scattered boxes, mountains of dried fruit, people, colors, fragrance of bread, strawberries and artichokes – and we come to the curve of the fish counters.
There my cuttlefish. Sprawled, placid, between a shimmering two-metres spatula fish and a family of zebra-striped mackerels. We take 4 and run away, this without having being first presented with the giant head of the spatula fish! Someone, in fact, later on in the kitchen, will put on a miners’ torch and bent on the sink will study for hours the anatomy of a fish.
Cuttlefish mission, the last of the day, done. The chards that will serve to prepare “seppie in zimino” (cuttlefish with chards), the dish I thought as the fisherman was making my bill, are already in the fridge.
And then we come home, we close the door behind us, letting outside the world, we take off our shoes, put down the bags, get into the kitchen and start cooking the meal, together.
More information about cuttlefish with chards (seppie in zimino)
Cuttlefish “in zimino” are a very ancient dish of the Italian Riviera (and the Tuscan) tradition.
The expression “in zimino” refers to those dishes where a main protein ingredient (cuttlefish, chickpeas, tripe, codfish) is cooked with chards (spinach in Tuscany) and tomato sauce. The term probably comes from the Arabic “samin”, which means a “dense sauce”, and indeed all of these dishes are very liquid, almost a soup, and should be tasted with slices of toast (maybe rubbed with a clove of garlic) .
It is a very simple dish to prepare, light and delicate. In my opinion it matches well both with white wine and with a light red wine, such as our rossese.
If you want to try another variant, I can recommend you the chickpeas and chards soup (ceci in zimino) recipe, a real soup and perhaps more suitable for a winter dinner.