What to Expect When Ordering Fish in Italy

Chances are, you'll get the head. Just sayin'.

What comes on the plate when you order a fish in Italy? Well, a fish. A whole fish, usually--and with a head and all the other things a fish has when it comes from the sea except its innards.

Fish in Italy is often served whole, baked in a salt crust or with potatoes and tomatoes. Baked fish, fish cooked in the oven, is called pesce al forno. If a fish is a single serving, it is usually served with the head on. There's a good reason for this.

You see, once you take the head off a fish and a bit of the skin, you've removed much of the clues to the identification of that fish. So what? Well, are you getting what you paid for? You need to know that much of what we eat in the US is intentionally mislabeled for profit motives. The estimates of how much fish is mislabeled in the US runs around 50%. 

Besides, to be true Italian, you need to eat the tender little nuggets of fish around the head. They're the best of the critter's flesh. Why throw them away?

The restaurant shown in the video is the Ristorante Il Delfino in Porto Santo Stefano on Monte Argentario in the Maremma region of Tuscany. The fish depicted in the video is ricciola, the Mediterannean amberjack.

Find out more about Monte Argentario in the Maremma.

Find out what food you might find on an Italian restaurant menu and how to order: Italian Menu Master.

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