Monday 4 July 2011

Transform me into a handsome fish

Si Dio mi transformasse in un bel pesce
E mi gettasse nel mare piu profondo
Potesse giungere un pescatore a pescarmi
E a vendermi in una piazza d'amore
Potesse venire la mia amante a comprarmi
E mi friggesse in una padella d'oro
Non avrei alcuna pena di bruciare
Basa che potessi entrare nel suo cuoro

Should God transform me into a handsome fish
And throw me into the deepest sea
Perhaps a fisherman would catch me
And sell me in a place of love
Perhaps my love would come and buy me
And fry me in a golden pan
I would have no trouble burning
For that would be enough that I could enter into her heart

Traditional Sicilian folk songs focused upon the themes of life - love, work, food, celebration and death. According to Sergio Bonanzinga, Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Palermo, "This song is based on a 19th century romance model which filtered with significant adaptation into the rural milieu. The text is one of the most moving love poems of Sicilian repertoire." The poetic imagery clearly indicates depth of feeling but also connectivity with the sea, fishing and of course food. 

Fish here in the UK is unfortunately a luxury both in terms of procuring it and in the variety that we are offered. Of course there are exceptions to the paltry, dried up offerings on sale at the supermarket. A few wet fish shops survive and in doing attract people from far and wide. On the whole our relationship with fish, as with so many fresh food products, has been reduced to the abstract. No longer do we want to approach a fish with its head and bones intact. Integrity and with it flavour has been sacrificed in favour of convenience. To ask for whole fish singles you out, according to a fishmonger in Gloucester Avenue, as not being British! If that's the case I am a happy alien who will continue to buy, cook and savour whole fresh fish.

Music courtesy of:  Sicile: Musique Populaires/ Sicily: Folk Music, November 2004, Ocora
Image: Visual Athletics Club

Places to buy fresh fish in London:
Granville Arcade, Brixton Market, Brixton
Le Petite Poissonnerie, Gloucester Avenue, Primrose Hill
Fish Works, Marylebone High Street


  1. OK, a can of worms here for the central london 'O' centric.... Brixton central since when? Maybe the end of the line, yes!

    for some lesser central and certainly southern wet fish mongers try -

    Rose Brothers 213 east street, SE17 2SS just off the Walworth Road, near to St George's (the third) Circus the historic geographic 'centre' of London being 1 mile from Westminster and the City.

    Sopers in Nunhead F C Soper, 141 Evelina Road, London, SE15 3HB

    Finally the Cod Father (yup) on Deptford Hight Street SE8 4AD, even better on a Saturday when you can visit the market and the junk stalls...... before a walk down through to Greenwich Park once the horses have gone.

  2. Hello Anonymous,
    Thanks for that. I'm happy to extend the dialogue far outside London even beyond SE15. My output is limited to my personal experience which alas is lacking in the wet fish department! Danielle