My favored legume this spring, has been the black lentil, lenticchie nere. from Sicily. I have been buying them from a small vendor of grains and legumes in Sant’Ambrogio market, here in Florence. They reminded me of the dark mini lentils grown in volcanic soil from the tiny island of Ustica.
An ancient island, it was first inhabited by the Phoenicians. It’s older than the Aeolian islands and is actually the rocky top of a an undersea volcano. Ustica means dark rock~ therefore called the black pearl of the Mediterranean. Today it stands protected as a marine reserve.
I walked the 2 mile radius of the interior through fields of wildflowers. Typical of the Med, I came upon wild figs, wild capers, wild prickly pears, yet cultivated almond groves and bean fields. Islands are usually known more for their fish and this is surely the case here. I rode around in a ‘gomone’, (a raft with a motor) in the surrounding sea. I saw medusa’s in a natural pool in the rocks that I almost jumped into. The water was inviting, crystal clear and fresh. Exactly what the jellyfish thought as well. Their presence means as much. Exhilarating would have been an understatement had I showed up a minute before. Here on the island, lentils are served with fish. Not a usual combination. Yet, from the point of view of local; what grows together, goes together. [Read more…]