Swamped by the seppie



The sign says they're alive and they're marvelous, which we'd know without a sign.  This is either something like the miraculous draught of fishes, or something beginning to resemble the slaughter of the buffalo.

The sign says they’re alive and they’re marvelous, which we’d know without a sign. This abundance is beginning to approach the appalling.

I realize that cuttlefish do not loom large on many people’s culinary must-eat lists.  Nor, if you’re a sport fisherman, on your must-catch list.

Excuse me if I bring them up again, because contrary to any impression I may have given that I’m obsessed with them, I’m not, no matter how many times they undulate their way into my blog. They’re always here for a reason.  And the reason just now is because of their quantity this season, which is exceptional.

The plethora of seppie this spring is approaching the level of annoying. (Think of the brooms-with-buckets multiplying exponentially  in Fantasia‘s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”  The situation here would be brooms-with-buckets-sloshing-with-seppie, more and more, on and on.) That’s what it looks like to me.

My delight — and I think Lino’s, too — in seeing (A) dazzling fresh seppie in the fish market and (B) dazzlingly low prices has been fading for a while now due to the sheer quantity of the tentacly treasures.  Something that once was a special treat has become a freaking fardel, a burden, practically a punishment. It’s become something like finding ourselves overwhelmed every day for weeks and weeks with Almas caviar, Wagyu beef, Swedish moose cheese, all floating on a high tide of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1982.  Even all that would lose its appeal. We’d start dreaming of scrambled eggs. The seppie are proof of it.

First, we bought them, and we were happy in our simple pleasure.  Then the indefatigable fisherman upstairs gave us a bag.  And we rejoiced.  Then he gave us another bag, and we smiled.  Then Lino went to the rowing club and discovered buckets of the critters just removed from the fishing net; several people urged him to help himself, but he said, “No, but thanks just the same.”

I came home one afternoon and I could see by the ink by the front door that another gift of seppie had been bestowed on us.  That was back in March, when such a sight still made me smile.

I came home one afternoon and I could see by the ink by the front door that another gift of seppie had been bestowed on us. That was back in March, when such a sight still made me smile.

Now the phone rings, and it’s his son.  The nets that he and his friends put out by the fondamenta where he works have yielded up another major haul, and he says he’s got a bag ready just as soon as we can come by.  What could Lino say? Of course he said “Great, I’ll be there tomorrow morning.”  (I’d have preferred hearing him ask, “You don’t happen to have a kilo of Alba truffles, by any chance?” But that would have been so rude. And pointless.)

We put the last batch in the freezer, for Lord’s sake, something we never do because you can’t freeze the ink.  Only God knows how we’re going to eat all this.  Sandwiches.  Hash.  Croquettes.  Casserole surprise.  Parfait.

Lino says the next time he hears our neighbor’s boat returning, he (Lino) is going to close the shutters and turn out all the lights.  But I think we’d start hearing strange knocks on the door, and  look out to find a herd of seppie on the steps waving their tentacles and saying “What’s wrong with us?  You loved our parents.  Let us in!  Throw us in the pot!  Hurl us onto the griddle!  Send us to Valhalla with the seppie warrior-maidens!”

There are two sayings here, which mean the same thing:  “Piove sempre sul bagnato” (It always rains where it’s wet) and “Quando sei ubriaco tutti ti danno da bere” (When you’re drunk, everybody offers you a drink).  The seppie now need their own proverb.  I’m working on it.  It will be essentially the same idea, but squishier.

Our hardy seppie-slayer came back the other day and we paused to admire his haul.  He said he'd taken 30 seppie in just 15 minutes.  There were several in this bucket whose squishing and sucking noises let me to believe they were not exclamations of admiration for his skill.

Our hardy seppie-slayer came back the other day and we paused to admire his haul. He said he’d taken 30 seppie in just 15 minutes.  It’s like the massacre of the buffalo out there.  Several in this bucket were making squishing and sucking noises which I sensed were not exclamations of esteem for his skill.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Categories : Food


  1. Gi says:

    What iffishermen started leaving them alone? Have they no other predators?
    Gi recently posted..Uma espécie de Primavera

    • Erla Zwingle says:

      Certainly they have predators. Crabs, seagulls, and sea snails (who don’t kill them, but feast on any convenient remains). They probably are sought by larger fish in the Mediterranean, fish which can be impressively large. Lino once caught some seppie using a small piece of white plastic on his hook, which he drew slowly through the water — it looked so much like a seppia that it fooled another one, who bit, so I deduce that they can also feed on each other. As for your other question, fishermen can’t leave them alone because otherwise they wouldn’t be fishermen. If you go out with a couple of poles and come back with nothing, you look really dumb. At least that’s what I presume.

  2. Steve Rauworth says:

    Thanks for that Erla, I guess. 😉 Really, I love the tone and imagination you’ve used, and the analogies. Humor is a healthy recourse when faced with difficulty, even that of too much of a good thing. I’ve eaten seppie when visiting Venice. It’s a bit of an acquired taste and I like it, but I wouldn’t want to overindulge.

    • Erla Zwingle says:

      I would modestly affirm that the seppie Lino prepares are better than what you ate, because restaurants use seppie ink from packets. We bought a packet once to try it, out of curiosity. Not the same thing. Anyway, as you see, however much we may love it, we’re ready for a rest.

  3. OMG….how funny!! The squishing, sucking noise…YUM!!

    I know exactly how you feel about too much of a good thing.
    In January I was beginning…..just beginning…to have too many fritelli.
    I didn’t just say that…did I?
    Linda Bailey Zimmerman recently posted..Venice January 2014

  4. Erla Zwingle says:

    As I hinted, anything, no matter how toothsome, can become redundant, then repulsive, if pushed too far. Mark Twain wrote an autobiographical sketch which ended with his finding a tomato patch one summer afternoon, and at the end of the day he was in such a state that he never ate another tomato in his life. My own mother told of the time she found herself in front of an endless buffet with mountains of shrimp, and by the time it was over, she could never look another shrimp in the face. One must be careful with these indulgences, they turn against us with no warning.