Between sea and land

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Fra mare e terra


This summer, on holidays in the Ionian Salento, we have had a “special” call: a boat trip to the 14 fish-ponds of Reho Mare (tel. +39 0833 201511 – info@rehomare.it), a company that deals of breeding fish in the open sea in front of the coast of Torre Suda. We never miss a chance to make this trip in the sea, a little different from the usual, with our furry and a troupe of a French TV movie, what would filmed the fishing operations of the seabass and seabream breeded in the sea.

The breeders offshore, very few in the whole Italy, guarantee a good quality of fish, although mariculture offshore is a very expensive activity in terms of management and maintenance. Among these, a position of prominence is occupied by the company Reho Mare, which, enable for ten years, now distributes your fish in the whole Apulia.

Our tour begins climbing aboard a squared and flat keel boat steered by Aldo Reho, accountant with offices in the center of Lecce that with his brother Angelo, so he’s accountant, has given life to this project powered after five years of waiting all permissions.
The fish-pounds, with a diameter of 22 meters, are anchored two kilometers from the coast where the seabed is over 30 meters and where once there was the trap, at the point where there is always wind and is therefore continuously guaranteed the water replacement that in return guarantees high product quality. Fishing-nets, however, Aldo explains us, are 15 meters because touching ground they would break them. Enemy number one of these installations, in fact, is the same sea: the nets can break or be torn from the force of the currents, so they must be continually monitored. Enemy number two, gulls and cormorants, which hunting in the fish-pond ensure them fish at will. So the fish-ponds are defended by nets and a new type of a form of protection hut is in experimentation. In every fish-pond there are 250 thousand of fish and every caught, that is carried one or two times a week, guaranteed 5 tons of product what is catched when accomplishes his biological cycle of 18 months and a size of 500 grams.

Really exciting to see the work of the winch pulling the nets full of silver and darting fish! Here they are happy. How do we know? Because “the fish show their unhappiness dying,” says Aldo. “And at our company till now it is not lost even a fish-pond.” The scientific explanation is that in the cages in the open sea, constantly crossed by waves and currents, dilution water prevents disease and pollution.

On the way back, in the territory of Nardò, we are intrigued by the activity of some people in a field of artichokes, with a small hoe gathered something digging at the base of the plants now dry. To our question about what they were doing, Francesco and Antonio answered that they were looking for “monaceddhe“, a special type of snails very tasty and precious. So, showing us in buckets what until then had collected, they have revealed that these snails dig a kind of burrow at the base of the plants that is slowly revealed digging delicately around the rhizome. You can realize their presence when they are balls of earth in which the snails spend their hibernation. Live, they have found some of them and they made it taste to us raw after removing the “cream”, that is the white film that the snails are created as a protection to the closing of the their shell. After the initial perplexity, we trusted: they are very good even so!

To close this “gastronomic ride” between land and sea, we can not talk about one of our favorite dishes from Salento: “scapece” (Scapece Manno, Via M. D’Azeglio 5, Sannicola – Lecce; Tel: +39 340 8033606), a specialty of Gallipoli made from small fried fish and then alternated with breadcrumbs soaked in vinegar and saffron in a tub of chestnut wood. Ancient dish, which is said it liked very well to Frederick II, continues to be offered as a tasty street food in paper straw foil in all the villages fetes. And we do not ever miss the chance to buy from stalls these small appetizing fishes and eat them dipping our hands in foil, and then lick our fingers with pleasure!