‘Pound and Cook’

Pista e Coza

Appears in

Honey from a Weed

By Patience Gray

Published 1986

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.