Puglia, Phoenician purple from the sea

12,8 % of the national fishing fleet
35,2% Demersal Trawl
2,0% Seine
0,9% circuizione
4,5% Hydraulic dredges
53,8% Small-scale fisheries
1,8% palangari
1,8% polivalenti passivi

murici puglia

“Legend has it that a shepherd, walking along the beach of Tyre with his dog, all of a sudden had the impression that the animal had hurt himself on a shell; when he wiped his dog’s face however, he realized that the red liquid was not blood, but a dye, produced by the mollusc. That is how Man discovered the purple dye.” Luana MONTE, Archeomedia

The origins are lost in the mists of time but it is thanks to the Phoenicians that the technique to extract the purple colour from a gland in the sea snail commonly known as murex, a gastropod mollusc, became very important both economically and historically.

The Phoenicians became so adept at dying cloth with this extraction that the colour of the product became synonymous with their name (phoinix as the Greeks called the Phoenicians =red).

But how was this precious pigment extracted from the murex?

After capture, perhaps using traps, the molluscs were placed in large tanks; their shells were broken and then they were they underwent a process of maceration, during which the pigment was obtained. At this point the colour was diluted with sea water, depending on the desired intensity, from dark red to violet.

Nowadays they are caught with towed gear and traps and the gastronomic aspects of the species are prevalent as this mollusc has a high mineral content, many proteins and vitamins, as well as being low in calories.

It is central to many regional recipes and highly versatile: use as an appetizer, as a condiment for pasta dishes, soups and even together with porcini mushrooms.