The fish of Lake Como Shads and the legend of sardines

Lake Como has a large variety of fish species. Many are typical freshwater fish like trout and pike, while others are a little rarer, like bleak, chub, shad and perch. Each fish has a storystory of shads: a little fish, you can fish only on May and June, with a shape that remains to sardine. Could be it connected?

There is a story, it is told by fishermen to younger or curious, that tells how sardine is become shad. Certainly there a little bit of truth…

In the ancient time, when everything was covered by water, without marvellous views, rich villas and charming parks, there was only water, and some fishes shaped as a sardine passed there. When the water retreated, sardines did not get the way by Adda River, to reach the sea. They began to live in the calm and fresh water of the newborn Lake Como. They started to eat what the lake gave them, loosing part of the colours of sardines. From there, they started to be named agoni, to be different from the marine cousins.

Between truth and legend, the certainly is that shad is fished in the water of Lake Como, with the correct licences and in the places where it is permitted.
To understand completely the story of shad, you have to stop in one of the specialized restaurants on Lake Como. Here you have to get “missultitt”, the local name of “missoltini”. The shads get this name because the fish is sun dried and pressed with salt and laurel in the typical wood “missolte”. The flavour is intense, heady. The process is completely natural and handmade: the missoltini are made by hands, with patience and mastery, maintaining in the time the tradition.

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