I also have fond memories of an awesome meal at a NorCal restaurant in famous Cannery Row, Monterey, California. (A place one of my fave authors John Steinbeck wrote about in his works.) It was the first time that I had the Cioppino experience--fun, and it is for the uninhibited fish lover. Read: You must wear a bib and have the skill of cracking crab and lobster. (I admit it. I took half of the fish soup home so I could enjoy solo and not feel self-conscious. And I shared with my fish-loving fur children who weren't shy. At all.) Mediterranean people do eat and do love their fresh fish--a variety of types, too. And fish, does play a role in the health perks of Mediterranean diets.
Speaking of the Mediterranean...My dear friend Gemma Sciabica, an amazing cook like my Mother was, provided me this Cioppino recipe for The Healing Powers of Olive Oil (page 234-235) and it's also in one of her cookbooks Cooking with California Olive Oil: Treasured Family Recipes. (We are both Catholic. We both love fine food. But I continue to pray that one fine day I could cook and bake up a dish or two like she does!)
1/4 cup Marsala Olive Fruit Oil
In a Dutch oven, add the oil, onions, garlic, and bell pepper. Cook over medium heat until soft. Add the wine and cook 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper, red hot pepper flakes, and bay leaves. Simmer for 15 minutes, covered, then add the basil. Add the cod and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining fish and cook, covered for 5 minutes, or until the clams open. Discard any unopened clams. Serve in soup bowls with toasted crusted Italian bread slices.
Excerpted and adapted from The Healing Powers of Olive Oil by Cal Orey (published by Kensington, 2009; mass market edition)