In Greek mythology, Thalassa is a primordial sea goddess, and in Greek thalassa means ‘sea’.

I found a link to a very interesting documentary set in Syracuse in an online publication called Times of Sicily.

The documentary is called Thalassa: Men of the sea.

The fishermen and fishmongers in the documentary speak mainly in Sicilian ( complete with hand movements and wonderful to see and hear), the marine historians speak in Italian, but there are also English subtitles. Right at the very end there is a message from Oliver Knowles,Greenpeace – this is in English. The documentary strongly supports sustainable fishing practices, the use of marine reserves and expresses concern for the plight of the tuna in the Mediterranean. Although it is fairly long, it is worth watching.

THALASSA – Men and the Sea

Small fishing boats in Syracuse.This photo was taken in 2007 and I wonder if these fishermen are still making a living.


From Times of Sicily:

THALASSA — “Uomini e Mare” Men and the Sea (directed & produced by Gianluca Agati, ITA, 26′, 2012) is a documentary offering a glimpse into Siracusa’s history, where the fumes from chemical and petrochemical industries and the relics of ancient tuna fisheries form the background to the stories of fishermen, fishmongers and marine historians.

The work shines a light on the profound economic, social and environmental transformation which Siracusa has experienced since the 1950s, and promotes a return to the consumption of less exploited marine species, which although out of favour with modern consumers, are cheap, nutritious and were a common sight on the tables of older generations.
The project has reinforced its environmental and social message by rejecting all forms of merchandising, making the film available free and accessible to everybody via the website (in Italian) :

This documentary has been dedicated to Fernando Pereira (1950 – 1985), Greenpeace activist and photographer drowned after sinking of the Rainbow Warrior.


The dark stuff is a Sicilian chocolate caponata made with eggplants. The  flavours of the caponata  with the brightly coloured, roasted, red pepper salad make a colourful and flavourful antipasto or starter to a meal.

Chocolate was a legacy of the Spaniards and n Sicilian cuisine there are a number of recipes, which include chocolate to enrich the flavour of a dish. Chocolate in eggplant caponata is a common variation of caponata in certain parts of Sicily.
Obviously the caponata can also be presented on its own;  good quality bread is the accompaniment.


CAPONATA DI MELANZANE, as made in Palermo

extra virgin olive oil, 1½ cups (more or less — depending how much the vegetables will absorb)
eggplants, 2-3  large, dark skinned variety,
onion, 1 large, sliced thinly
red tomatoes, 2 medium size, peeled and chopped, or 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and a little water
capers, ½ cup, salted or in brine
green olives, ¾ cup, stoned, chopped
celery, 2-3 tender stalks and the pale green leaves (both from the centre of the celery)
salt and freshly ground pepper

For the agro dolce sauce (sweet and sour sauce):
white, wine vinegar, ½ cup
sugar, 2 tablespoons

dark, extra fine chocolate, 50g of (organic, high cocoa content – 70%).

The ingredients and processes I use for making Caponata di malanzane are the same as I use for making the Caponata from Catania (The same ingredients, but no peppers and I increase the amounts of eggplants as I have done in the list of ingredients above.).

For procedure see post:
Caponata Siciliana Catanese

Follow the recipe for making caponata.   
Add pieces of bitter chocolate into the agro dolce sauce and stir it gently as it melts. Finally add the vegetables. This results into a much smoother and more luscious caponata.
Serve the caponata cold.


My friends all seem to enjoy good food and are good cooks; Mandy is no exception. Not all of my friend’s cooking has been represented on my blog; this is not because I have not enjoyed their food, warmth and hospitality, but more because I may not have had a camera or it was inappropriate to take photos when food was about to be served.

This is a photo of a leg of goat that had been marinating in a chemoula my friend Mandy made with a mix of ghee, extra virgin olive oil, some of her own preserved lemons and harissa.  She purchased the goat from friends who like her live on a property near Cowra in New South Wales. Goat is a lean meat and benefits from being larded or having some extra fat added.


Mandy placed the meat on a rack in an old fashioned, baking dish (which is a delight in itself). She kept the lid on throughout the cooking time and ensured that there was a bit of water below the rack in the bottom of the baking dish; this provides a bit of steam and keeps the meat from drying out. Marinating the meat beforehand and this method of cooking prevents shrinkage; the meat was very tender, moist and tasty.

Score the surface of the meat in a 1 cm criss-cross pattern to help the marinade penetrate the meat. Preheat the oven to 160c and cook for 6 hours.

Add about ½ cup of water to the pan after the first 30 minutes and then every hour. The juices and the scrapings from the pan made an excellent gravy.

But it is not just the meat that makes a good meal. We ate the meat with silver beet grown in her garden. This was mixed with whole chickpeas and sautéed in extra virgin olive oil, onion, garlic, chilli and cumin.  A tahini dressing (tahini, garlic, salt, oil, lemon juice, cumin and a little warm water) accompanied this dish.


We had unpeeled kiffler potatoes roasted in extra virgin olive oil and a bowl of cucumber mixed with yogurt, mint and garlic.

Mandy also made a hot mint sauce using a recipe from Sam and Sam Clark’s Casa Moro, The Second Cookbook. I too have this book and here is the recipe:

4 tablespoon’s extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons good quality sweet red wine vinegar (add a pinch of sugar to normal red wine vinegar or use balsamic)
salt & black pepper
½ a teaspoon caster sugar (optional)

Place a small saucepan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. When it is hot, but not smoking, add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes until golden brown – stir once or twice to ensure it colours evenly. Add half the mint and all of the cumin. Cook for a further minute then add the red wine vinegar and simmer for 30 seconds more. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining mint. Season and add sugar if needed to balance the flavours. Serve hot.

Goat (capra in Italian), like mutton is the mature beast; kid (capretto in Italian) is the young animal. As a rule Italians prefer to eat kid.

For other kid or goat recipes see previous posts:


And there was more food. We finished off the meal with a rhubarb cake (the rhubarb is also grown in her garden) and accompanied by some of her saffron ice cream made with eggs from her hens. This fantastic meal was prepared by this very busy woman, who could have been spending more time in her studio painting (you can see some of Mandy’s paintings on the wall behind her).

Thank you Mandy, another memorable meal.