Tuesday, January 6, 2009
THE FISH SUPPER
I have only been back a few days but already beginning to feel as if I have never been away. Once again the kitchen is filling with delicious aromas, lentil soup and bread today, the laundry is all clean and put away, and Christmas decorations are tidied away until next year. I now am finding myself thinking back over the wonderful 2 weeks spent in Scotland.
I know I came back vowing never to let another piece of fried food pass my lips only to go right onto my hips, or never to savour a bacon roll or indulge in a slice of chocolate cake. But nostalgia is a strong emotion and yes there is a little bit of me forgetting the extra llb or two, the tight waistband and by now the pimple on my chin has faded to a distant memory. But I must be strong, hold out, stay away from the bad foods, can there be such a thing? and continue with the salads and healthy alternatives, at least for a bit longer.
Now to the FISH SUPPER, in other places known simply as fish and chips. You can find this dish all over the world but to my mind it always tastes best in Scotland. As children we were occasionally treated to a fish supper, or single fish if you didn't want the chips. Then it would come wrapped in newspaper and when it was unwrapped the smell would come pouring out of the paper tempting you with what lay within. It would already have the salt, brown sauce and vinegar added in the "chippie" and of course the batter would now have to be peeled from the paper, this was never a problem and it was always a great treat.
However things move on and food laws stated that newspaper was now not allowed so instead it would come folded a white food safe paper.
Back when I was planning my trip home I was thinking about all the things I miss and would want to have while back, a fish supper was top of my list. I then decided to cook it and see how close I was to getting it to how I remembered it. I had only a couple of weeks before I would enjoy the comparison. I went authentic and served it up in newspaper, with a layer of greaseproof in between, I served the traditional HP Sauce, salt and vinegar. The end result, not too bad, but it would never quite match up to the memory of the real thing.
Two weeks later I am tucking into the very dish I had been thinking about over the past few weeks. Was it as good as I had remembered? Oh yes. Hot crispy batter and soft flaky fish, freshly cooked. There were a few changes since the last time I had eaten it, now it comes in a polystyrene box and the sauce is served on the side in a sachet, you turn your back for a few years and they meddle with the most traditional of dishes. However, there was no effect on the flavour, I enjoyed it and will be happy with the memory of it for another couple of years.
Food has the ability to stir the emotions, to take us back to times and places long forgotten. It can transport you back to childhood, to a holiday or to any other time in your life. Who does not associate an ice cream cone with lazy days on the beach, the smell of turkey with Christmas, or Thanksgiving, or the smell of cabbage with school dinners! Everyone must have their own memory of a food from their past and how good it is to sometimes indulge ourselves, not just in the memory, but in the recreating of the time and place with a taste from our past. These memories are ever evolving as we try new foods and food cultures. Can you remember your first curry?