The essence of Bari is the sea
Bari is the Puglia region’s largest city and capital of the Province of Bari located along the Adriatic coast. Coastal towns in the province, such as Polignano a Mare, invite vacationers and locals alike to enjoy the beaches, cliffside cafes, and sea views. The sea also provides Bari’s fishermen abundant supply for providing fresh seafood at markets along the waterfront for homes and restaurants making Bari an important fishing area of Puglia and therefore of Italy.
Mr. TWS and I were fortunate to be introduced to a few highlights of the Bari coastline and way of life by Carlo Romano, our cheerful and enthusiastic guide during our Puglia road trip. On the way to our last night’s accommodations at the Sheraton Nicolaus Bari, Carlo drove us along the waterfront of his hometown of Triggiano, near the city of Bari. He pointed out sights along the way and the scenes of everyday life away from the tourist attractions. This took us past small beaches in residential neighborhoods and the commercial fishing harbor to get a first-hand look at the importance of fishing to the area.
We passed local fishermen tenderizing the octopuses by slinging them on the rocks. During the process, they dip them into the sea water and when they see foam, they know they’re ready.
During our visit to Puglia, Carlo’s knowledge about and pride in the region was evident. Now, in his own neighborhood amongst friends who greeted him with waves as we went by, those traits were even more apparent. We stopped at Pescheria dal Nonno, a pescheria (fish market) where Carlo goes about every other day to buy fresh fish since it is close to his home.
Everyone knows Carlo around here and we met a few of his friends at the pescheria which was a scene of diverse and plentiful fresh seafood just caught within a stone’s throw of the market. In the photo above the market owner is holding a large scampi with a lobster-like claw that is common to the area.
Black mussels were often served at the meals we enjoyed in Puglia. We were amazed at the number of them here at the market being cleaned in the photo above. We were also impressed at the speed and skill with which they are opened.
Carlo sampled raw black mussels, closing his eyes while savoring the flavor. However, he cautioned seafood lover, Mr. TWS, not to join him since he wasn’t used to it and could have an adverse reaction. Mr. TWS knew better than to go against such experienced advice.
I thought that the scorfano (red scorpionfish) shown above (surrounded by smaller mullets) looked a little scary, but Mr. TWS was imagining how delicious it would be cooked and served with a nice pasta.
The photos below show more of the seafood for sale at the market — octopus, red shrimp, sea bass, baby shark, salmon, squid, calamari, swordfish, clams, crabs, and more. How many varieties can you identify?
If you like seafood, the fresher the better, you would love visiting this area of Italy. Many seafood specialties are served fresh (raw and cooked) and in large portions at restaurants throughout Puglia, such as the one at Balnearea Beach that we posted about previously.
When I asked Carlo what kind of fish he likes best, he said, “I like to eat all kinds of fish, but I don’t like fish with lots of bones. I eat raw mussels, octopus, clams, baby squid, calamari. In this region, many of the Barese people like to eat the raw stuff.”
What are your favorite types of seafood?
Thanks, Carlo, for being our excellent Ceglie Eurobus driver and guide throughout Puglia. Thanks to Puglia Promozione for hosting our Puglia experience.
If you go:
Bari province is located in central Puglia on the eastern coast of the “heel of the boot”. The area is served by Bari/Palese International Airport about seven miles west of the city of Bari.
Pescheria dal Nonno:
Via Della Marina, 25
San Giorgio (BA)
Tel. +39 080.5491228 – Fax 080.5491780
We’re linking this post to Marcia Mayne’s “Foodie Tuesday” series this week. Check out more gastronomic articles at Inside Journeys. We’re also contributing this post to Nancie McKinnon’s Budget Traveler’s Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday and Noel Morata’s Travel Photo Discovery Travel Photo Monday series. Enjoy other links to photos and stories on their sites, too.
Wow I love seafood and that looks spectacular, all the lovely looking snapper fish and octopus…yummy I want to have the real thing now!
Love seafood? Go to Puglia, Noel! So many types — all fresh!
I don’t even eat fish – but I love seeing the fresh fish markets! Great post 🙂
Thanks, Sue. I’m not a big seafood person either (Mr. TWS is the fish eater in our house), but like you, I love to see the markets and watch everything going on. It’s quite a scene.
What a lovely experience that Carlo gave you!
I love seafood, especially freshly caught but I’m really bad with names. I didn’t realize that black mussels could cause an adverse reaction. Was it raw?
Thanks for linking up this week, Cathy.
Yes, the mussels were raw. I think he just wanted us to be cautious — wouldn’t want to ruin the trip by getting sick.
I’d love to see the fishermen flinging octopi around – that looks like it could be some strange sport!
That was a slice of local life that was so interesting to see. I never had any idea about how octopus is caught, much less how it’s tenderized.
The freshwater eel is my favorite (unagi in Japanese)
I’ll have to ask Mr. TWS if he’s ever tried freshwater eel — don’t think it would be my thing. Of course, how can I know, unless I try it? 🙂
I love seafood and fresher the better of course. Calamari and prawns are my favorite but there are many others too.
I really like prawns, but I’m kind of picky about how I like them prepared. Have to be grilled just right.
I adore seafood and this looks like the place for me! That red scorpionfish looks gnarly though, I wonder if it’s tasty… Thanks for sharing!
Yes, have to agree with you about the scorpionfish. Maybe someday I’ll give it a try, but it will have to be well-cooked and not resembling it’s raw self at all. 🙂
Wow! What a feast from the sea!
It’s a seafood feast all over Puglia, Maria!
We loved Bari – our far too short a visit last year as part of our cruise from Rome to Venice. Loved the old walled city there –
We spend a bit of time in the old town (which I’ll be posting about later), but there’s much we didn’t get to see. I’ve just recently learned that Bari is a popular stop for the cruise ships.
I’m such a wimp when it comes to sampling weird seafood. Give me good old shrimp, scallops and crab. Interesting how they tenderize the octopus.
I’m pretty much a seafood wimp too, but it was fascinating to see all this action up close since it’s such an important part of the the Bari way of life.
My husband doesn’t like seafood. We have lots of things in common, but not this one. I love seafood.
Same thing in our household but it’s the hubby who love the seafood. I actually wish I could get myself to try more fish dishes.
Lobster always tops my list. I also love squid. When I was in Taiwan, I ate “Squid on a Stick” every chance I got. My favorite way to eat it though is rings of calamari. Nothing like a good feed of properly cooked calamari. It looks like you had a great day!
Super day. Super trip. We saw and did so much, but even so — still much to see next time.
To me, the best part of this outing is that you got such a in-the-know person escorting you around. I think that would make a big difference in really getting something out of the excursion. I had no idea octopus had to be tenderized or that was how it was done. Fascinating!
Michele, that was the best part for me, too. Carlo was a wonderful guide — we were lucky to have him with us.
I’ve seen Bari as a cruise ship itinerary and have always been curious. What a great little town with all that seafood. You can’t get any fresher than that. I would have loved to see the octopus being tenderized too. How cool would it be to see that. Interesting tidbit! My favorite seafood are those Alaskan king crab legs. I suddenly feel the need for some seafood for dinner tomorrow. 🙂
I was so glad that we saw the tenderizing, too. It was just by chance that we were driving by while the fishermen were doing that and our great guide Carlo explained it.
Never managed to develop a taste for raw octopus and squid…
I’ve never developed a taste for it either. Maybe another trip to Puglia will turn me around. 🙂
I agree with Carlo! I don’t like fish with a lot of bones. Living in Italy, I’ve been open to trying many more types of fish than I used to and some I would never think to eat, like the barracuda I had in Greece, are just delicious! I love mussels and those scampi with the lobster like claws are SO darn tasty grilled up with just a little lemon and butter on them.
You got me hungry with that last line! 🙂 So you ate barracuda in Greece — good for you giving it a try. I have to be more adventurous.
Cathy, I would love to try all of those fish as long as they were cooked! 🙂
Agreed! I like my food cooked, too. But I’m starting to wonder if I should at least try some of this raw seafood. So many people love it, maybe I’d surprise myself and love it, too.
I will eat any type of seafood anytime… and seafood is one of my favourite things to photograph. I had no idea that octopi were tenderized on rocks. The photos reminded me a bit of the dhobi wallahs in India (who beat clothes on rocks to clean them).
I can totally see how you were reminded of the dhobi wallahs. Something I need to find out from Carlo is whether that is the only method they use there or if there’s another method of tenderizing, too. Didn’t think about that before.
Fresh seafood is the best. Last month my neighbor brought me a fresh rainbow trout that he had caught the day before – it was so delicious. I have not had any for years and I won’t buy trout in the stores, they are not fresh.
Tough to find good fresh seafood in the stores, isn’t it? What a treat that was to get the fresh trout! Nice neighbor. 🙂
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Fish and sea food are my favorites, looks like this is the place for me 🙂
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