One of the most memorable breakfast I can remember was a particular dreary cold morning at Ostiabeach, outside of Rome, Italy. A group of us decided to go to the beach on Saturday. Paul and I decided to go out early the night before. We pitched our sleeping bags on the beach, had a few beers, and soon fell asleep. Some half an hour before daybreak, all hell broke loose. Gunshots were heard. Pellets were landing near by. We could see fires a along the beach. Can you picture us crawling off the beach on our bellies like GI’s on a beachhead? When the sun finally did come up a half and hour later, the hunters packed up their gear and left having had their chance at the uccelletto (little birds). Apparently, many of the birds of Europe migrate in the spring and autumn in generally North/South movements. Large numbers spend the winter in Africa and fly north to Italy for the breeding season.
Paul and I were shivering as we were ill prepared for the cold. We climb into our sleeping bags dozing for a hour. Having been rudely roused from slumber suddenly we were both ravenously hungry. Not like today, back in the 60’s there was nothing in Ostia other than the ruins. Certainly no place to eat. We saw a fisherman so we helped him pull his wooden boat to the sea. He said come aboard and help him pull in his nets. Therefore, we did. He was amused by our utter lack of preparation and for arrival on this beach in the middle of bird season. From the net, as it was drawn in, he put a small ray into my hand and the subsequent electric shock damn near knocked me overboard. By American standards, the fish were small and the quantity of the catch small too. Upon our return to the beach, he offered us breakfast.
He cooked some of the shrimp in garlic and olive oil. We had some crusty Italian peasant bread which help soak up the golden precious dripping on the plates. I remember how wonderful the shrimp was and how nice it smelt on that cold morning.
Later that day, the group showed up. We came back to thank the fisherman but he was gone. We left all the leftover beer we had on his door step.