Every season on the island of Lošinj is characterised by something special. When the sea becomes too cold for swimming, the islanders know that this is the time when squid – a much sought-after delicacy in the local cuisine – return to more shallow waters.
Squid are caught from a boat on the open sea using a technique known locally as “pescafondo”, i.e. bottomfishing. A piece of lead is tied to a line. At the top, there is a crown of needles, which is why squid mistake it for a fish. Since squid are predators, the lure must be pulled in uniform movements so that the squid thinks it is a fish and attacks. This is why it might appear that people on the boat are constantly waving to somebody, for squid are usually caught as the result of uniform movements from the elbow.
If you suddenly feel something while “waving”, this means that a squid has wrapped its tentacles around the lure. At this point, you must pull the squid out of the sea with uniform strokes and put it into the bucket on your boat.
When catching squid, one gets rather wet, as the line is constantly being pulled in and out of the sea. Unless you want to be wet through, you should wear special clothes. Just like cuttlefish and octopus, squid have black ink which they use for defence. If they feel threatened, they discharge the ink into the water in order to blur the sight of the enemy and thus give themselves a chance to escape. It may occur that a frightened squid will spray a jet of ink when being caught – sometimes, in fact, both the catcher and his boat are totally black from squid ink.
However, all the trouble caused by water, ink and hands tired of long waving motions disappears the moment when the whitish-reddish squid, perfectly formed to move in the water, is caught and pulled on to the boat – and even more so when you catch a full bucket of them. For if you come across a school of squid, there is a great chance that you will be pulling out one after another, whichcreates a feeling of pride that every inhabitant of Lošinj will gladly tell you about.
The meat of squid is very tasty and can be prepared in many different ways. Squid sliced into rings or stuffed, added to risotto, grilled or prepared in a traditional brodettostew are just some of the traditional specialities of Lošinj that use only ingredients that come from the immediate vicinity of the sea: parsley, olive oil, flour, potatoes and garlic. Adriatic squid taste best when prepared in these simple ways.
Adriatic squid are quite different from those from other seas. When on Lošinj, don’t miss the chance to visit some of our restaurants and try the silky, mild and creamy taste of our squid, accompanied by a glass of good wine. And if you are looking for new challenges, maybe you should join the locals in squid fishing. While your hand monotonously moves up and down, you can enjoy the view of the horizon, the sea and the sky, and feel the beauty of the simple Mediterranean lifestyle.