A new peaceful day breaks between Christmas and New Year. A phenomenon which is noticeable in our town is that the wind is absent from the weather forecast. The idea to dive for sea urchins is timely and agreed upon by the whole family. The sea is calm in the Gulf of Ventilegna. At the point of Testerella, everyone is in a good mood and the hubbub that traditionally accompanies our family outings begins. Wetsuits, fins, masks, gloves, net and grapnel, here we are equipped for the crop. From the Latin word “Ericius” meaning hedgehog, the appellations of this small animal with its calcareous body covered with prickles are linear. “Riccio di mare” in Italian; “Enriçò de Mar” in Occitan; “Ricciu di Mare” or “Zinu” in Corsican; “Ouriço-do-mar” in Portuguese, thus recognizing the toponymic constancy in the warning of the stinging danger.
Marcel Pagnol had good reason to say that if one considered things by their appearance, nobody would ever have wanted to eat a sea urchin!
In my youth we fished without getting wet, from the edge of our glass bottom boat which played the role of a magnifying glass, using a tong and a bucket and allowing us to identify them on the sea bed. We get several dozen in no time. Today the resources are less abundant and diving for the sea urchin has most fortunately been regulated to ensure its survival.
Sitting on the rocks at the edge of the water, we are preparing to share our catch. The tasting takes place in silence, as solemnly as the moment is delicious. Between the amateurs of opening the sea urchins with a special utensil or those with the traditional scissors, each method reserves a surprise and maintains the hope to find the animal with the fleshiest orange lamellae. According to the sex of the individuals, the colours vary from yellow to bright red passing through all the nuances of brown to orange. There is a divine pleasure removing the tongues of coral with a small spoon, and slowly introduce into the mouth these sweet and powerfully iodized treats accompanied by a piece of crusty bread and a sip of dry or fruity white wine according to preference.
I still saliva whilst writing these few lines.
Just as divine as the post-prandial moment lying on the sand, becoming immersed in the surrounding tranquillity and confirming my choice of where I will take my photos of the evening.
It will be at Sutta Rocca at the foot of the Citadel that I will conclude this day with its accents of iodine in front of the sunset and a Citadel mischievously harmonizing in apotheosis with the colourful note of the day…
Bonifacio, Corse, France