I am a modest chap. I don’t like drawing attention to myself. I am also not the tallest person in the room, unless I’m in there on my own. Over the years, I have grown accustomed to having barmen serve the guy behind me and being left until last when it comes to fighting for attention in the Autumn sales. I tend to not do much of either pinting or sale shopping these days so there is no real loss, except to my dignity. But, there is a limit….
While following the queuing rule at the market fish stall in St Foy le Grande, two robustly proportioned female ‘locals’ pushed their way in front of me, blabbering in french and being very rude. One remarking “Ces deux truites serait bien pour le dîner.” Normally, this would not bother me. But, holiday or no holiday, there were only two trout left and I had already set my heart on Herb Stuffed Trout with Ratatouille for our evening meal. So, forcefully, but mannerly, I retook my rightful place in the queue. “Ahhhh. Touristes!” remarked one of the old bags (as they now were in my estimation.) One benefit of being a ‘Touriste’ is that one can pretend to not understand. Just in time, I caught the eye of the stall-holder and requested “Les deux truites, si vous plait.” This did upset the ladies, who expleted something unintelligible in my direction. But, I thought, they could do with a bit of upsetting.
We escaped the market with our haul of trout and vegetables and repaired to the safety of our gite.
The haul included everything we needed.
The list is as follows:
- 2 very fresh trout
- 4 onions
- 1 aubergine
- 2 courgettes
- 4 big beef tomatoes
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 handful of thyme
- 1 handful of rosemary
- Salt and pepper to season
- A glass of robust red wine
Preparing the ratatouille involves a good deal of chopping. It gave me the opportunity to vent my anger over the rude French women.
Side note on rude French women: Having made dozens or trips to France over the years, I have met very few rude French women (or men). They are not a nation of wonderful people but, like the rest of us, if you treat them with respect, most of them will reciprocate.
First chop the courgettes and aubergine. Sprinkle with salt (to extract some of the moisture. This prevents you having a soggy ratatouille. Then dissect the onions into reasonably large pieces. Simmer these off in some olive oil while you chop the remaining vegetables. Do the garlic and add it to the onions when they have begun to soften.
Slice and de-seed the tomatoes, skinning them if you want to. I didn’t bother with this dish. Add them to the onions. Pat the excess water from the courgette and aubergine. Add them to the pan.
Add a glass of wine.
Season the big pile of vegetables with salt and pepper.
Simmer this for a good half hour to concentrate the flavours and reduce the liquids. It will end up looking something like this next photo.
While all this is going on, get the barbecue lit. Stuff the trout with the herbs. Wipe the fish with olive oil (to prevent sticking).
Place the trout in a grill basket and barbecue over a high heat.
Spoon lots of the ratatouille on to warmed plates and serve the fish on top.
The trout was delicious served with only a huge pile of ratatouille and a glass of shockingly inexpensive rosé wine. It was worth the shoving and abuse in the market to bring this to you. I hope you get the opportunity to cook something similar.