This is the story of a birthday. Celebrated on 11th January… and under sunny skies, if you please! Hey yes, that’s Bonifacio in the winter: With a little luck, just a little, we will enjoy mild, friendly weather and deserted beaches. Therefore, with these conditions, what can we do? What about an “oursinade” (a sea urchin party)! With a birthday cake for dessert.
Everything starts the previous day. The weather is confirmed, the mobile messages are sent ardently, phones are ringing, invitations are confirmed: Tomorrow Sunday, meeting at the fourth beach of Ventilègne (there are 5 in a row): it is superb, wild, a profusion of fine sand and boulders, exactly where to go to unearth the divine sea urchins.
As always for an oursinade, the day starts early. The most courageous men arrive on site as early as 10 a.m. These are the divers. To be precise, you don’t fish for sea urchins. Contrarily, where I have been imprecise or even wrong, it is by writing courageous men. As indeed, it is also for the brave, and fearless who have no fear of cold water and are happy to enter the sea in slightly lower temperatures. Isn’t that right, Nadia? Hats off to you!
Personally, I am less courageous. Let’s be frank, I’m very sensitive to the cold. However, I like fresh and liquid. I, therefore, provide the wine. The rosé of Bonifacio and also, “Controlled Origin Label” red and whites of the Figari region, a few kilometres from here. I know them well; some are exceptional.
I arrive with my bottles, at the same time as Julie and her husband who are loaded with various types of breads and other delights. And here is Arthur with sausages, cured hams and figatellu. Yes, the oursinade is a collective event: sharing, and conviviality above all. There are even sandwiches for the children, because the very marine and iodised taste of sea urchins is not for them. And as far as the birthday cake is concerned, there will be a great choice. By lack of coordination, or by too much gluttony (we all love desserts), there are several festive desserts.
Towards noon, the first sea urchins arrive. Without a pause, the openers will set to work, with special pliers or with a pair of scissors. Several hundreds will be opened. It must be said that there is little to eat in each sea urchin: 5 orange lamellae, a few centimetres long. But what joy! They can be eaten simply with a small spoon or more generally with a small piece of bread, wiping the inside of the open shell. Very easy, very gourmand, very traditional.
I go around the thirty guests with my plastic cups and my wines of all colours. And I tirelessly repeat: “Here is the first glass, keep your cup and do not forget to throw it in the garbage bin over there”. This is extremely important because we arrived on a virgin beach and we must leave virginal cleanliness when we go.
Wait, it seems that the kids have already attacked the sandwiches. And when I said to you that the oursinade is a time of sharing, it is true for them too: here is a kid sharing his sandwich with my little dog. That’s cool.