Monday, 7 May 2012
It’s just another day at the office for dashing detective Salvo Montalbano. To many a cooking course student in Sicily, not to mention hard-pressed police officers in Britain filling out morepaperwork in a drab station over a sandwich, Montalbano’s life must seem a fantasy.
Which of course it is: the creation of Sicilian writer Andrea Camilleri. But – with nearly twenty best-selling novels to date and an international hit TV series ongoing, now familiar to BBC4 viewers – the fractious but brilliant and uncorruptible food-lover Commissario Montalbano has become one of the world’s most popular sleuths.
Sicily has been quick to celebrate Montalbano. Those wanting to follow in his footsteps – and meals – will find a warm welcome. ‘Vigàta’, his fictional home town, is based on Camilleri’s birthplace of Porto Empedocle – abandoned factories, chic cafes, lighthouse and all. With an eye for TV-tourism, the town has now officially renamed itself ‘Porto Empedocle Vigàta’!
Montalbano’s idyllic seaside house, verandah and all, is in Porto Secca, a fishing village just southeast of Ragusa. When they’re not filming another dining scene here, or the Commissario answering the phone with stubbly impatience, you can stay here for bed and breakfast.
Following trails is, of course, hungry work. Foodies have compiled whole recipe books based on Montalbano books and films (I segreti della tavola di Montalbano – ‘Secrets of Montalbano’s Table’, for instance) and bloggers describe dinner parties that recreate some of the detective’s favourite dishes. Here’s a sample menu:
Caponata di melanzane
Pasta col ragù alla siciliana
‘mpanata di maiali
Sformatino di cioccolato amaro con salsa all’arancia
Tracking down the killer isn’t always easy. Fortunately for fans of Montalbano – or simply fans of good Italian food – tracking down his favourite places, and recipes, is rather easier.