Tag Archives: fish

Eating Venice: Tiny Yellow Tuna Fins

Whether yellow, blue or bigeye, raw or cooked, when the red flesh of tender tuna arrives at our table, these tiny, sturdy, perfectly positioned, radiant yellow fins that propelled this magnificent fish across ocean depths have long been discarded. But what an impression they make when still intact — and what would it be like to see them in use…

from the upcoming Eating Venice iPhone & iPad app — stay tuned!

private fish painting in sottoportego

My Own Private Biennale

private fish painting in sottoportegoI’d heard or read somewhere that, perhaps inspired by the arrival of the Biennale, temporary paintings had begun springing up around town, created on paper canvas applied to walls, washing away easily with the rain. I hadn’t run into any though, until one appeared on my doorstep — literally.

Whoever painted this big, red, spotted fish was quite furbo, applying this canvas underneath the sottoportego so that it would remain protected and thus last longer. The paper has shredded and dissolved a bit at the bottom as motor boat waves at high tide slosh the lagoon water over the border, but if you ask me that just contributes to the overall effect that this fish monster is surging right up from the rio. Red spots sling off the fish’s nose onto the canvas above him. I think it’s divine.

I’m greeted by this ichthyic apparition every time I leave the house. È fantastico, and one of those unexpected things, the fact of which makes you become even more attached to this absurd city. And that this clever artist chose my sottoportego? What a coup…


UPDATE: Yvonne from Australia pointed out that this is the work of the same Papiers Peintres that create the papery frames around town (there’s one along the fondamente San Felice and another down from the Madonna dell’Orto). If you stand in the middle, have someone snap your photo, then send it to them — the address is on the frame — they’ll post it on their site. Explore their site, there are images, youtube videos, and more.

Venice means fish…but which is which?

rialto_fish.jpgAlmost every travel guide will rightly advise you that for dining in Venice, don’t skip the fish. It’s good advice, and perhaps you’re coastal and are already familiar with the myriad of shapes and sizes seafood comes in: crustaceans, mollusks, and regular fish that range from pinky- to thigh-size.

But if you’re a landlubber or are simply more familiar with freshwater fish, I thought I’d run a series of short posts focusing on the fish and seafood waiting for you both on the menus in Venice and in the Rialto Market should you care to visit them before you consume them.

canoce_cicala_di_mare.jpgCANOCE: Mantis Shrimp

The first don’t-miss fish is a crustacean that has an official name of Pannocchia, but that is referred to in Venice as the canocia (in Rome and Tuscany, cicala di mare). The English nickname is Mantis Shrimp, referring to both its front appendages and the sweetness of its meat.

These canoce are from the high Adriatic, and so are generally smaller in size that those you might find fished from larger seas. In fact, all fish from this area are scaled to the Adriatic’s size. And according to some pescivendolo (fishmongers) are sweeter as a result. I’m staying out of that argument, however.

At the market, all the canoce‘s undersea defenses are easily identifiable: the fake eyes on the tail, the front legs poised to strike, and a shell that’s pointy from stem to stearn.


Canoce are often served as part of an antipasto (but can take part in many a seafood dish, including risotto). Although they’ll be unarmed by the time they reach your plate, you’ll still need some technique to extract the meat from the remaining shell. For best results, hold the tail with your knife, and strip the meat from the bottom shell with your fork (or vice versa). It should separate easily, but if not, don’t hesitate to ask your server for a demonstration. (In the photo, the canoce is on the lower right.)

So, if they’re indeed in season, don’t let your unfamiliarity with the canoce‘s looks or name stop you from ordering these tasty morsels…you’ve come too far for that!