Birds That Have Flown Away

No doubt if you are growing even one sage plant this year, chances are great that you have enough of this strong herb to flavour a Thanksgiving stuffing so enormous that the Guinness People wouldn’t even bother showing up to authenticate its title. It would win a placement in the book and keep placing now and through eternity by default.

There are not enough people in the world to eat that side dish.

Recently I’ve been on a break of sorts. Naturally, the first thing I did to prepare for the break is stock up on books. I may have gone overboard. One of the books I purchased was “My Tuscan Kitchen: Seasonal Recipes from the Castello di Vicarello,” a collection of Italian home cooking recipes by Aurora Baccheschi Berti. This is a beautiful book, full of warm and tempting photographs of sumptuous Italian treats. The focus is on simple, seasonal foods that will inspire you to use up the gleanings from your garden. I want to cook it all (although the truth is that I never will), but so far one recipe has stood out, and it isn’t even a recipe at all. It was simply instruction to take two sage leaves, sandwich a thin layer of anchovy paste in between, batter and fry. Apparently this is called, uccellini scappati or “birds that have flown away.

Are you intrigued? I sure was. I have fried sage leaves in butter. I have battered sage leaves in oil. I have even sandwiched sage leaves around cheese and fried that, but this is something different. Sage is a strong flavour, but so are anchovies. The two didn’t seem to cancel each other out, or create something too overwhelming to enjoy. They were delicious. Strongly flavoured, but harmonious.

They flew away, alright. Right into my mouth.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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8 thoughts on “Birds That Have Flown Away

  1. I believe you, Gayla, really I do. But I’m not trying this dish, mostly because I don’t like anchovies! I’ve had tempura fried borage leaves with boccocini, and that was delightful but this sounds wayyyy too strong. But fun!

  2. two of my favorite flavors, and just in time. My sage plants (started from seed) are going nuts. Would need a month of Thanksgiving dinners to make a dent. But this is a start.

  3. Hahaha – when I read the title & then saw the photo I was horrified that the brown covering the leaf was some foul bird-induced sage-plague.

    Nope. Just anchovies. False alarm.

  4. Sounds yummy! I`m still hooked on those toasted fried egg, tomato and basil sandwiches you posted about:) Winter will be tasteless.

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