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Fish

OK, that’s IT. I’ve had all I am going to take. A few days ago, we got back from holidays, to be greeted by grey skies and rain. The same grey skies and rain we had left behind a couple of weeks earlier. Things didn’t improve either. As I type, it is bucketing down outside. I now suspect that the sun only comes out in the middle of the night. So, as the powers that be refuse to give us any summer, I’m going to make a bit of my own.

Perhaps I am the real fake in all of this. My brain was not in gear while I was buying the fish at the weekend. There is nothing unusual in this as I tend to buy the fish early on a Saturday morning. The ‘end of week’ bottle of wine tends to be still influencing me by the time I get to talk to Han in George’s Fish Shop. In response to my “What’s fresh?”, he put on  a wry smile and refused to rises to the bait. Instead, he reminded me that everything is fresh except the frozen stuff. Then he recommended the Haddock.

My friend Michael Houseright asked me to guest post over at The Blissful Adventurer while he was away in Italy last month. I  thought I should throw it up here too. (Visit Michael’s new blog or he will kill me for reposting without telling him.)

My tale begins 127 years ago. The story goes that Giuseppe Cerve came to Ireland from Casalattico in central Italy. He came here with very little, to find a better life for his family. He began selling potatoes cooked in oil from a barrow. We Irish liked it so much that he soon opened Ireland’s first ‘Chipper’ where he began selling fish and chips. An Irish Italian tradition was born.

A rare photo of Giuseppe Cerve’s original Chip Shop. This image from the collection of the late Barbie Borza.

Prawns, coriander, lime, garlic and a twist of black pepper. For once, I got all the ingredients into the picture.

I remember as a young fellow being slightly flexible with the truth and having my late Dad pull me up on it with “Don’t come the raw prawn with me.”  It seemed like a bizarre expression then and still seems like it now, over 40 years later. While I was thinking about an ‘angle’ for this simple barbecue recipe, the expression popped back into my head. That got me looking it up on Google. That took me to the Australian National University and their Meanings and origins of Australian words and idioms. There are some cracking expressions with which the Australians have enriched our language. Read on, Cobber

I ask the question because I need something to hang this on. My piece of tuna is the shape (and nearly the size) of a baby grand. However, the answer does not lie there. I have been faffing around with this post for over a month now. I have procrastinated, prevaricated and generally beaten about the bush. It is not within me to just cook some food, photograph it and post it. I have to say something. The zing in this thing was the salsa verde. I followed a Jamie Oliver recipe pretty closely and it turned out very well. Then it would, would it not? He is one of the chefs who really is inventive and thoughtful. More than I can say about me and my bush beating. I will fill you in on the piano bit later. 

Bringing up children is a trial as well as a joy. Their lack of worldly experience gives them a razor-sharp clarity that fades with advancing years and is often gone by the time they’re 10. When our youngest was younger, she possessed this clarity and wielded it without mercy. Often in my wisdom, I told both her and her sister “There is no such thing as a stupid question. Only a stupid answer.” Once, in frustration, I responded to yet another “Are we there yet?” from the back seat of the car with “Don’t ask stupid questions.”

They say that as one gets older, one tends to reminisce about better times in the years gone by. The summers were always sunnier, the fashions more fashionable and the food tastier.

Perhaps when I am at the stage where my last few friends will visit me to wheel my bath chair into the morning sun, I may begin to think this way. But, today, I still have my faculties (if not my follicles) so I know how much better things are now than back then.

I usually start my posts with a little story. I do this to set the scene and to try to make my recipe posting stand out just a little from the hundreds of thousands of other recipe posts that are published every week on the Interweb. I have enjoyed modest (very modest) success with this approach. This is despite my ignoring best SEO practice and not including the subject in the headline and often drawing on the most tenuous links between subject and object.

Am I losing my touch? It was Friday. I had planned the ‘Family Dinner’ that we have pretty well every Sunday. I let the diners know that we would be having Roast Leg of Wicklow Lamb Studded With Garlic and Rosemary, served with a Wine Gravy, Parsnips, Carrots and Potatoes. This is a crowd pleaser. However, things were not to go according to plan. First to drop out was my mother. In fairness, a viral infection having led to a week in bed qualified as a half reasonable excuse. Eldest daughter and boyfriend did a double diss, preferring dinner at his over the magnificence on offer in these parts. The most crushing blow was delivered by youngest daughter, favoring some late teenage party with friends over my culinary exploits. Only the Wife remained loyal, saving me from my feelings of total rejection.

Squid & Prawn Risotto2I had a post written and ready to go. Ready to go that is except that I needed a top quality rib joint to prepare, roast, photograph and serve to my review group (mother, wife, eldest & youngest daughters). Then all I had to do was add in the recipe bit and the photos to the meat of my writing, as it were. They were looking forward to something special. They are a loving bunch but to my personal chagrin they have got used to getting their own way on the food front…

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