It is only recently that I discovered that what I mean by calamari isn’t necessarily the same as what an American guest has in mind. Good friends from the States were visiting in Venice and we had gone together to the city’s best fish restaurant. I asked if I could help decipher the menu, but one of them replied, “It isn’t necessary. I see from it they have calamari and that is what I am going to have.” When a platter with whole, roasted squid was brought to him he was indignant. “What is that!” “Didn’t you order calamari?” I asked. “Sure, but that isn’t calamari; calamari comes in rings and it is fried.”
I yield to no one in fondness for what my friend refers to as calamari, but slicing it up into rings is not the only wonderful thing you can do with a squid’s sac. You can use it whole as a remarkable, ready-made, tender container of tasty stuffings.
I have always marveled at the goodness of things stuffed. I don’t know entirely how to account for it. A mysterious interpenetration of flavors takes place and stuffed squid—or stuffed cabbage leaves, stuffed zucchini, a stuffed bird—exceeds in its capacity to please the separate endowment of both the wrapper and what it contains. Could it be too that there is a childlike joy in retrieving, as though it were treasure, something that has been concealed within something else?
Fine needle and cotton thread or strong, round wooden toothpicks
© 1997 Marcella Hazan estate. All rights reserved.