We already had the chance to talk about what to eat in Venice, also mentioning the tradition of the bacaro tour and the passion Venetians have for the ‘happy hour’. But in this article, we would like to share with you some curiosities and things you can only eat in Venice, that you definitely should taste.
1. Cooking eels
There are no legends or curious tales about why eels – anguilla in Italian and bisato in Venetian dialect – are so common in Venetian cuisine. In fact, the main reason why Venetians invented so many recipes with this kind of fish is that the Venetian lagoon is full of them.
The eel is an odd fish that in the past was usually associated with myths – nowadays still nobody knows how it reproduces – but what we certainly know is that it’s really tasty!
There are a couple of recipes we would like to mention, Anguilla alla Mocenigo and Anguilla su l’ara.
We are sure you’ll have recognized the surname of an important Venetian family with the first one, Mocenigo. In fact, the name is probably related to the place where the eels were fished, close to one of the Mocenigo’s mansions in the countryside. The second one, instead, refers to the way the eel was cooked, on the “ara”, which was a flat stone surface used in the furnaces of Murano island. Venetians used to put the eel inside a terracotta pan and cook it slowly, for hours. Unfortunately, cooking the eel this way is near impossible, but you can still taste a good anguilla in some traditional restaurants in Venice.
2. Snails with garlic and oil for the Redentore Festival
Not many people love eating escargot, but these snails are different: they are smaller. Venetians usually cook them for the Redentore Festival, in July, the annual appointment to commemorate the end of a terrible plague that affected Venice in 1576 with a firework display.
Even if snails – bovoleti in Venetian dialect – are so easy to prepare, you won’t find them easily in the Venice restaurants. Don’t worry, we can recommend some places where you can try them. Don’t forget to eat them with a toothpick!
3. Bigoli in Salsa
This is a pretty common Venetian dish and you won’t have any difficulties in finding a place to eat it. Bigoli in Salsa is the Venetian name of a plate made of thick spaghetti, onions, and anchovies. It’s an ancient recipe that, just like snails, was traditionally prepared for the Redentore Festival and also for the Christmas dinner.
Maybe the taste is a bit strong, but it is worth a try!
4. The traditional Castradina
This is a Venetian dish you won’t find in Venice every month of the year, in fact it’s usually prepared for the Madonna della Salute Feast., in November.
Venetians have been eating the Castradina since the 17th century, and – on this specific day – you’ll be able to find this soup with stewed mutton and savoy cabbage even in restaurants.
We are looking forward to knowing if you like it!
5. Schie con la polenta
Last but not least, this is another traditional thing you can only eat in Venice. Schie con la polenta is a fish dish, made of fried local shrimps, that you can only find in the Venetian lagoon, served with a bit of polenta. It’s a simple recipe, but very tasty and easy to find in any restaurant. Since it’s not related to any kind of festival, you can eat it any time of the year.