Yesterday morning I was with some guests in Pozzuoli, for an “Archaeology and food tour” in the Phlegraean Fields (about 13 miles North from Naples). Pozzuoli has a very old fisher harbor, and its fish wholesale market is the biggest in the region, even bigger than the one in Naples. Close to it there’s a big fish market for retailing too.

When you enter, your eyes suddenly open wide: such a huge place, full of fish sellers’ stallsfish market in Pozzuoli, each of them specialized in a different kind of fish! You just turn around and at each stall you must say: “ohhhhh!”. Sea fish of every shape, size and color; with or without shells; crustaceans and mollusks; big swordfishes and tunas. And so on, with all the typical fishes from the bay of Naples: scorpion fishes, gilthead breams, codfishes, soles, banner fishes, the “king” sargos and of course anchovies.

In this picture it’s me holding a lobster… afraid of being bitten!!!

Out of the little fishes caught by little boats (the so called “paranza”) in big quantities in their nets, people use to make a “frittura di paranza”, a fried mix of fishes from paranza boats. Red mullets, little cods, anchovies, and then many fishes which name is used only in Neapolitan like mazzoni, vope or retune. Sorry, but I am not able to translate this – and I suppose they don’t even exist in English! Together with a few prawns and cuttlefish rings, they are turned in flour before jumping into the oil pan.

paranza fish in Pozzuoli

The result is something SPECIAL. Of course only if the paranza fishes were fried in a light sunflower’s FRESH oil, and then put a few minutes on some blotting paper. Salt and fresh lemon juice, nothing more on it. Fresh salad is indicated to accompany it. Love it!

Pozzuoli was in Roman time called Puteoli. It was an important military as well as a commercial harbor for all the wares (silk, spices, jewels) coming from North Africa and the Orient. It was built in 37 BC under the name Portus Iulius, because dedicated to the Emperor Iulius Caesar Octavianus Augustus. Its ruins are under the sea today, because of a volcanic phenomenon called “Bradyseism” that causes the gradual uplift or descent of the Earth’s surface, typical in the area called Phlegraean Fields. Which is a very fascinating area, with a volcano (Solfatara), volcanic lakes, wild nature and Roman ruins at every corner!

Are you interested in a guided tour with me? Contact me at [email protected]

If you wish to know more about food and wine tours in my region, see also: