Monday, March 16, 2009

Ognina 2

The beautiful weekend weather gave us an opportunity to make another family trip to the Ognina seafood market on Sunday (more info about this area here). We had the usual fun walking along the port, taking in the gritty sites and smells, and listening to the entertaining shouts of the fisherman hawking their catches in loud competing slogans: "anchovies for only 5 euros a kilo, costs less than a packet of cigarettes!", to which an equally feisty onlooker responded, "yeah, and they won't kill you!"

I am happy these hard working men manage to have a sense of humor, as in this context there is clearly nothing romantic about making a living as a fisherman. The man I captured in the photo above was thrilled to see me take out my camera and proudly held up his impressive catch for me to see with a smile on his face and a sparkle in his clear blue eyes. It was a nice moment.

We also found some new territory away from the crowds, puddles and fishy smells and ended up spending most of our time in this cozy extension of the main port, just under the overpass. Here we had a visit from the Ognina ducks, close up views of a small octopus brought in by a fisherman, and explored the sandy shoal packed with small fishing boats, more fun for toddler climbing than any jungle gym. 

I was able to sneak away from bambino and admire two examples of the intricately painted boats that I love so much and stood out from the crowd of the more usual blue and white painted boats. I know nothing about the tradition of Sicilian boat decorating, but am curious to find out more. Who does these paintings? A group of talented fisherman? From the few I have seen, the edges of these more elaborate boats are usually trimmed with variations of the same geometric patterns based on stripes, triangles and dots in reds, greens, yellows and blues, and the prow of the boat usually has a mermaid figure blowing a horn on one side and a figure of San Giovanni on the other. This one also has an eye (an evil eye perhaps?) and a bouquet of flowers. They are usually dated (this one was painted in 1982).

We also walked under the overpass to the not special but still entertaining playground in front of the pretty little Ognina church. And before we knew it, it was time to go home for lunch. 

I should mention our purchases that would be our lunch--two types of sea snails that were absolutely delicious (the small ones were sauteed with oil, garlic and parsley, the large ones were cooked in a tomato sauce with garlic and parsley). On the weekends there is usually a man with a large grill set up on the side of the road in Ognina and this Sunday was no exception --we picked up grilled artichokes and peppers, and a chicken roasted on a wood fire. Another wonderful (and easy!) Sunday feast.  


  1. sea snails - what a delight. i like the description you gave of the recipe - fantastically simple; only a few ingredients are needed to bring out a distinct flavour
    the photo of the painted boat is rather special - although greece is a seafaring nation, our boat art cannot come as high in the comparison stakes as what you have shown us

  2. I'm hungryyyyyyyyy now!!!! ;-))

  3. Yes, we are headed to Sigonella this summer...seeing your posts is fueling my desire to get on a plane today and also helping me get through this dreaded task of sorting and house selling/renting. Those boats are beautiful.

  4. Ciao, I'm doing a Spring round-up of posts tomorrow. I would love to include this one with a photo (with full credit and link backs, of course!). You can email me karen(at) and let me know if it's ok.


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