As I have mentioned in previous blogs, Brion and I never pass up the opportunity to have a good fish/seafood meal. Living in the prairie province of Alberta, Canada, fresh fish is not always readily available. This week when we checked out the fish department at the grocery store, they were featuring ‘wild’ fresh salmon. Along with enjoying our salmon for supper it brought back some very special memories I’d like to share with you today.
I’m not sure if you have heard of or maybe you have visited the island of Burano in northern Italy. Situated 7 km from Venice, it’s just a short, 40 minute trip by Venetian water taxi or ‘vaporetto‘. Burano is an old fishing village, whose traditions date back to Roman times. Fishing was the main source of income for most of Burano’s history but the number of fisherman has greatly declined over the years.
Although the island was settled in the 6th century, its significance came in the 16th century. At that time women on the island began making lace with needles. Due to competition from cheaper machine made lace from Asia and dwindling interest among young people both in making lace and using lacy linens, the industry is dying out.
With a population of less than 3000, this little, densely built-up island is interwoven by canals filled with colorful fishing boats which match the rainbow of colored houses. The first homes of Burano were built on raised piles, with walls made of woven canes and afterwards plastered with mud. Later these houses were replaced with ones made of bricks and the inhabitants began painting them with bright colors. The origin of the colors is unknown but as the story goes that years ago, when the fishermen returned from sea, they couldn’t recognize their homes through the fog, so they started painting them different colors. The houses follow a special color pattern, based on a specific system that has been in place since the village was founded. If you are a resident of the island, and wish to paint your house, you must send a request to the government, which responds by making a note of the colors permitted for that specific lot of houses.
Another interesting Burano sight is the ominously leaning, bell-tower of the church of St. Martin Bishop. The tower rises some 160 feet with the tower leaning 6 feet from its axis. Yikes!
Brion and I had the opportunity, while on a vacation one year with the Trafalgar Tours, to visit the island of Burano. We boarded the ‘water taxi’ which took across the lagoon to the island. It like you were stepping into a postcard with its brightly colored houses and clothes hung out to dry on lines strung across second-story windows. Extra splashes of color came from the many flower boxes. As we strolled through the narrow streets, many ladies were sitting in the sun, chatting with their neighbors, while making their intricate and beautiful Burano Lace.
The highlight of the afternoon came when we were treated to a fabulous seafood lunch at a local restaurant. I’m not quite sure how to best describe this meal other than it was ‘just incredible’.
Memories are priceless gifts to savor!
Fresh Salmon Roll-Ups
Cook rice. Place salmon fillet in a large plastic bag. 'Gently' pound to flatten to an even thickness. Slice bag down one side and across bottom; open out & set aside in refrigerator.
Microwave broccoli florets about 1 minute; chop. Shred cheese. Melt margarine & add spices; stir well.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine rice, broccoli & cheese with 2/3 margarine/spice mixture. Spread 2/3 of the filling evenly over salmon; pat down. Using the help of the plastic bag, roll filled salmon up in a jelly-roll style. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with foil & spread remaining filling in it. Place salmon roll on top, pushing under layer close up around roll. Spread remaining butter sauce over salmon roll. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Slice & serve.