Recalling my reference to ‘vanished breakfasts’, here is an authentic Carrarese one. In this town there were still some old quarrymen left, whose working day for 40 years began at 3 o’clock in the morning by making breakfast, before walking up the mountains to the quarries, carrying their boots to save the leather, with a fiasco of wine and a merenda tied in a bundle. A retired quarryman called Catossi had a great reputation as a, gran’ mangiatore, a real gourmand, and this is what he cooked.
Getting up in the dark, he took his stonemason’s hammer and banged that recalcitrant object, a stoccafísso, unsoaked, to shreds on the marble kitchen table. He then pounded some tomatoes, parsley and garlic in a mortar, threw the shredded stockfish and pounded odori (the aromatics above) into a large earthenware casserole (padella), added a liberal quantity of olive oil (no water), and simmered it until all liquid was absorbed. He ate it with a slab of polenta. The colossal thirst this induced he slaked with alternate glasses of water and grappa.