I just read that Anthony Bourdain is currently filming in Naples. He is there to examine the disparity between the picturesque Naples of Dean Martin’s lyrics and the gritty and raw Naples of today. Having just returned from Napoli, I absolutely cannot wait to see what Tony thinks of this chaotic yet endearing Italian city. Naples and I have a love/hate relationship. At one moment, I am shaking in terror, worrying that a vagrant on a scooter will whiz by and steal my bag. The next moment, I am sitting at a café overlooking the Bay of Naples and enjoying the best seafood stew I have ever had. Naples left me feeling disenchanted and quite cynical because the streets are grimy, buildings are crumbling, gangs of stray dogs are roaming, mobster men are scheming, and chances of being pick-pocketed are probable. On the other hand, though, I was delighted to find that the boulevards are lined with palm trees, ornate architecture and frescos are hidden behind secret doors, fishermen sing and playfully banter as they cast their reels, sea breeze wafts through the air, and the food is as delicious as it is authentic. I predict that Anthony’s episode about Naples will be filled with his signature expletives, referring both to the chaos of the streets and the deliciousness of the cuisine. As I eagerly anticipate the airing of this episode, I can always enjoy classic Neapolitan foods in the meantime.
For my Italian seafood stew, I used this recipe from Michael Chiarello. I absolutely love his show on the Cooking Channel, and I often find myself wishing I could crash his casual yet elegant dinner parties. I made a few changes to his recipe, as most people do when they cook any variation of a seafood stew. Instead of using jalapeños, I chose to use crushed red pepper. I also opted for mussels over clams and cod over halibut. Although making seafood stew can be quite a process, it is always fun to switch up the ingredients and play around a bit. Be sure to use the freshest fish possible to ensure that this Italian seafood stew tastes just like the real thing!