Learning from the Italians//Baked Cod+Capers

There’s perhaps no greater feeling than a hunger that is soon to be sated.

I’d built up quite the appetite, sipping down cool bottles of Coke in the sun, deliberating my next move.

Luckily, I was in the city of Livorno, a bustling port full of fish markets and restaurants – and I had the rest of the day to decide what to do with the rest of my life. Whilst I’d been staying with Joseph and Maria I’d not really been considering my future. I’d become infatuated, instead, with the intricacies of Italian life, the slow burn nature of their day-to-day existences and the sheer ease with which people seemed to drift from one day to the next.

Although Joseph and Maria had adopted a few of the local habits from their neighbours (late lunches and a love for al fresco dining) they had spent their retirement finding a way to adopt their British sensibilities to their new surroundings. Breakfast mostly consisted of toast with Marmite, Sunday dinner was always a hunk of beef with potatoes (regardless of the temperature) and Saturday evenings were often spent scouring the TV for something resembling Strictly Come Dancing. It was difficult not to judge them for retaining these cultural quirks, it seemed as if they were destined to retain the dubious classification of ‘Brits Abroad’ for the rest of their lives.

In contrast, I was eager to shed all traces of my British heritage.

I’d spent a lifetime raising hundreds of British kids, generations of proper speaking gents who would no doubt find their way either into a cushy trust-fund job or an untrustworthy offshore accounts office, shuffling papers and shifting digits for similarly shady individuals. I was happy to overwrite the last forty years of dreary routine with a new life – filled with exciting new encounters and fresh experiences.

Experiences like the excellent Baked Cod+Capers that I was lucky enough to stumble across whilst wandering along the bustling Livorno seafront.

Baked Cod+Capers

{Feeds 1 hungry (slightly lost) Brit Abroad looking for a direction in life or a family of 4}

For the Cod:

2 large cod fillets

1 good handful of black olives

olive oil

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

6 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped

1 good handful of mushrooms

1 bunch of fresh basil

1 handful of capers

1 lemon

1 loaf of rustic bread


Pre-heat your oven to 190 degrees (or fire up your barbecue your using one) then heat up a decent drizzle of oil in your pan and fry your onion for 5 minutes or until golden.

Crush up your garlic and throw them in the pan with your chopped tomatoes – season well and cook gently for 15 minutes.

Slice up your mushrooms and add them to the pan and let your sauce simmer down for 10 minutes.

Chop up your capers with your basil and toss them in the pan, stir well and taste for seasoning.

Grab your cod and lay them in a shallow baking tin, grease up with a little olive oil to prevent sticking and then squeeze lemon over each piece.

Finally, spoon your sauce over the cod, cover in foil and bake in your oven (or throw on your barbecue) for 25 minutes.

Rip apart your rustic bread and serve it with the fish when it’s good and done.