Fish Story

Anthony Butkovich

An old Italian legend tells of a poor woman who stood at the docks each evening begging fishermen for scraps from their daily catch to feed her family. She took the assortment of seafood home and made it into a wonderful soup, variations of which grace dining tables in every region of Italy today. La Mora (912 Lovett Boulevard, 713-522-7412) serves the spicy Tuscany version of cacciucco ($16.95) in a bowl big enough to drown in, thick with clams, scallops, calamari, red snapper and jumbo shrimp in homemade fish stock. Healthy dashes of cayenne provide the piquant flavor; the heat index is noticeable but still pleasurable. The classic Italian trinity of vegetables -- carrots, onion and celery -- completes the robust flavor of the celebrated soup, served with coarse toasted bread pungent with fresh garlic.

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