There are 8 essential dishes that you must try when you set foot in the beautiful city of Venice. Due to the fact that Venice is surrounded by the Adriatic Sea, Venetian food consists of a wide variety of sea creatures. If you are not a fan of seafood there are a few dishes that don’t consist of any sea critters and will rock your world. The first dish you must try is sarde in saor. This dish can be described as having a sweet and sour taste to it; it is consisted of fried sardine fillets that are marinated in vinegar, onions, and pine nuts. Fun fact: saor was originated in the Middle Ages as a method of preservation by Venetian sailors and fishermen (10 Essential Food).
The second dish is one of the most interesting and incredible Venetian dishes to me: risotto al nero di seppia. It consists flavors of squid, wine, onion, tomato, and ink braise. The squid ink gives the risotto its black color which can make it look unappetizing but it actually wins over most visitors. The third dish, risi e bisi, carries significant historical value and amazing taste. This is your basic Venetian rice and peas; it consists of vialone nano rice, pancetta, onion, butter, parsley, and pea shell broth. This was traditionally served as an offering to the Doge of Venice on St. Mark’s Day (10 Essential Food). The fourth dish is an antipasto known as baccala mantecato (creamed dried cod). This dish is made by soaking, poaching, and blending the fish into a smooth mousse. Cod is not native to the Mediterranean Sea and it was founded by a Venetian trader who was stranded in Norway with Norwegian cod fisherman (Don’t Leave Venice). It was then imported from other Atlantic seafarers. The fifth dish is bigoli in salsa which is a signature starter dish in Venice. Bigoli are long, thick, whole-wheat strands of pasta resembling spaghetti. The sauce consists of onions and salt-cured fish (sardines or anchovies). This dish is traditionally served on giorni di margo (day of abstinence) or Good Friday and Christmas Eve.
The sixth dish is made for seafood lovers. Moleche, which are small green crabs, are soft and tender. They are straight from the Venetian lagoon and are eaten after they shed their shells. The seventh dish is a perfect match for the non-sea lovers. Baicoli are dry, long-lasting biscuits. These were used as food for sailors on long voyages (10 Essential Food). It is a long process to make, requiring two rises and double baking. Venetian aristocrats would dip baicoli in creams and dessert wines.
The eighth dish is essential for those who love sweets. Fritole is a sweet pastry fritter traditionally prepared and eaten as part of the festivities before Lent (10 Essential Food). They are made with a rice batter consisted of flour, eggs, butter, milk, sugar, pine nuts, and raisins. They are then molded into balls and deep fried in oil and dusted with sugar.
As you can tell, the dishes in Venice are heavily influenced by the Venetian lagoon. In Massimo Montanari and Alberto Capatti’s book, Italian Cuisine: A Cultural History, they pay homage to Bartolomeo Scappi, who was a famous Italian Renaissance chef. Through his travels, Scappi notes that, “fisherman from Chiozza and Venice cook the fish over the coals or cook it in a broth of malvagia wine and water, along with some vinegar and Venetian spices.”
Capatti, Alberto, and Massimo Montanari. Italian Cuisine: A Cultural History. Columbia University Press, 2003.
“10 Essential Food and Drinks to Try in Venice.” Eating Italy Food Tours, 23 Nov. 2015, www.eatingitalyfoodtours.com/blog/essential-food-venice/.
“Don’t Leave Venice Without Trying These 10 Dishes.” Walks of Italy Blog, 21 Mar. 2017, www.walksofitaly.com/blog/food-and-wine/food-in-venice-veneto-verona-italy-travel-tips.
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10 Essential Food and Drinks to Try in Venice