As we sail around the Mediterranean, we are privileged to try all sorts of local delicatessens
Rabbit, horse, baby birds and now I’ve tasted the interesting flavours of sea urchins (see video below).
When we went to Malta, we tried their famous rabbit stew (delicious). In Catania, Sicily we enjoyed a family BBQ where friends made us the traditional grilled horse sandwiches – they were amazing.
Yes- I had two massive grilled horse sandwiches!
While staying in Preveza, Greece we went up to a mountainside town (a town that I can’t pronounce or spell) and enjoyed a night of lamb, beef and pork. That probably sounds normal, but what wasn’t normal was to see the animal hanging in front of us and being butchered just before it was grilled and served to us.
Not long ago I heard that school children are failing to understand where food comes from. Instead of saying that beef comes from a cow, they’re saying that it comes from the grocery store. Well…my 5 year old daughter, Sienna, not only knows were meat comes from, she’s been fortunate to have a Greek butcher explain all of the cuts of each animal. I found it amazing to watch Sienna take an interest in the meat and the various cuts.
She wasn’t turned off by view of animal carcasses – she was simply inquisitive
Furthermore, the meat from the restaurant is the best I’ve ever had – it’s grilled with some salt and oregano. Oh-my-gosh..everything I’ve had there melts in your mouth.
What else? In Cyprus I tried the baby bird delicatessen (this is not a legal dish – you need a local person to order these for you). When the plate of 6 to 12 birds arrive at your table, you have to cut the head off, make an incision in the stomach to pull out the insides and then you eat the rest. I really, really had a hard time eating these baby birds. In fact, I could only eat two before I apologised for being ‘too full’. Fortunate for me, my local friend wasn’t unhappy to eat my left-overs.
The baby birds tasted like chicken fat and there was a bit of crunch (the bones) – gross…I know!
In Crete, I ate a massive plate of snails…I thought it was going to be like escargo where you get six or perhaps twelve snails in garlic and butter, but the dish in Crete came with about 40 smaller snails. They were cooked in oil and rosemary.
The first 20 snails were okay but I really struggled to eat more
And my most recent eating adventure has been with sea urchins. Interestingly, Italians pay a pretty penny to eat urchins – whether the urchin meat (it’s the eggs you eat) is being sold in a cup from a local fish market or over a dish of pasta yet the Greeks don’t eat them at all.
I suppose it’s the same with horse. The English don’t eat horse and the French (and many other nations) love it. And in some countries people eat cat and dog!
Anyway, while sailing around the Greek Ionian, our friend Stefano, the Italian Admiral (retired) decided to find, collect, clean, and prepare a sea urchin meal for us.
Since the Greeks don’t eat sea urchins there’s a massive abundance of them in the Greek waters
Watch the video below to see the start to finish process…My husband’s reaction is quite funny – at first he tried to cover up his dislike for the sea urchin mush – hehehehe. The video was filmed off the island of Meganisi in the Greek Ionian.
As a side note, Stefano has told me that catching sea urchins on a full moon is the best in any month without the letter ‘r’ in it…but he’s talking about the Italian spelling of the months. So, good months are January, May, June and July. Apparently, during a full moon the urchins are much more full of eggs.
Finally, Stefano told me to pass on that it’s important to not wipe out a whole family of sea urchins. They do need to reproduce, so when collecting them, spread your collection out a bit.