fisheat

Lazio, Donax clams, protagonists on the Roman coast

4,6% of the national fishing fleet
20,8% Demersal trawl
1,0% Seine nets
4,0% Hydraulic dredges
68,0% Small-scale fisheries
6,2% Polyvalent passive gear

tellina-del-litorale-laziale

Sweeter and more delicate than other molluscs, these clams are a symbol of Roman cuisine. They were already known and appreciated 2,000 years ago when Apicius, a Roman patrician, contemporary of Tiberius and author of the famous first cookbook De re coquinaria sang their praises. Now, thanks to their small size which are well suited to use as a condiment, they have become an ingredient for typical dishes such as bruschetta or spaghetti with clams

These small molluscs are only fished using drag nets deployed from fishing vessels such as small boats used for coastal fisheries or by hand. The “tuninolari” (the name comes from “tuniola“, which is the word in dialect for this kind of clam), also called “tellinari“, come out at dawn and return at noon, moving up the coast along the shore on days when the sea is calm. The drag nets used by hand, walking along the beach, are about 60 cm wide, while those deployed from small vessels are about a meter and a half wide. These drag nets are made personally by the fishers, in the past out of wood and now from steel.

This species has been added to the list of traditional products from the Lazio region, which brings together the food products with time-honoured methods of processing, preservation and aging as well as being recognised by the Slow Food Presidia, which support small-scale traditional products at risk of extinction, thus giving due value to the areas they come from, salvaging ancient skills and techniques.