Aside from forgetting the names of people, things, places and events during conversations, which failing I have decided is probably a good thing, my memory is as good as the gear box in a rarely used classic car; hard to start from cold, but when running will purr along sweetly as long as bursts of acceleration are kept to a minimum. It was during a recent outing that my memory reminded me how disappointing have been my experiences of eating asparagus in restaurants as opposed to those at my own, or a good friend’s, table. I am no longer a denizen of restaurants, good or bad, which is just as well considering how curmudgeonly and intolerant I have become with the passing of time, but asparagus, to my mind, is one of those foods that is not well suited the disciplines of smart restauration. Asparagus, like fresh crab, is the ultimate fast food and so demands the messiness and lack of order that resonates with Woody Allen’s “Is sex dirty” “Only when it’s being done right” approach which is often, in my experience, not as welcome as one would imagine in the hushed lairs of the gastro gnomes or, equally, in the cool eateries of foodie hipsters. Eating food such as this needs to be enjoyed without restraint, with bare hands and as often as the season allows. There is no question that green asparagus is the least troublesome to prepare and therefore the quickest to get onto a plate….take the head of a spear in one hand and the base in the other and gently bend the spear until it snaps, conveniently at the junction between the woody base and the soft green flesh of the spear, and then plunge them into a shallow pan of boiling, salted water. They cook very quickly and to judge their readiness prick the flesh just below the tip with a sharp pointed knife which should enter easily but the flesh should still have a firm feel to it. Once cooked, take them out and drain them. If you’re planning to eat them later, plunge them into iced water to stop the cooking and wrap them up in a clean linen tea towel…..in my case, I want to eat them now so they go straight onto a plate. My preferred accompaniment is the yolks of good eggs, hard boiled, mixed roughly with salt, black pepper and olive oil. Drink a dry Muscat from the Languedoc or, as we’re in the Pays de Loire, a Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Chevernay or nearly any of the Sauvignons from the Loire.
Posted in 2018, asparagus, Boiled eggs, Cooking, Digital photography, Drinks, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, Hard boiled eggs, Humour, Memory, Photography, photography course, Photography holiday, Sancerre, Seasons, Uncategorized, Wine, Writing
Tagged Asparagus, cars, food, Humour, Memory, Photography, Wine, woody Allen
As one who has never gone fishing in his life, to have gone fishing would seem to be an unconvincing excuse for not being in one’s place of work during the hours allotted. American literature and folklore suggest otherwise and even that it was at the very top of the suitable excuse list. On reflection it could be said that it has a useful ambivalence in that it offers no suggestion of the length of time before a return could be expected nor even that the fishing expedition will indeed be finite. The only qualification needed for its effectiveness is that the user be a sole trader (clever little pun in there) as there must be no one in cahoots available to be interrogated by a third party as to the possible reason for such a complete disregard for customers and creditors or, worse still, as to the name and location of the pub or “maison close” in which the putative fisherman may be currently casting his hook, line and sinker. And so I offer my worthless excuse for not posting anything at all in the last month or so: it’s because I’ve ……
…..and nothing but a pair of shimmering, bright eyed mackerel to show for it. My first memories of mackerel are to be found in that time before I knew if I liked food; liked food as a source of great pleasure as opposed to something that assuaged the continual hunger that is part of childhood and teenage years. As a family we holidayed around boats and water and if it was a year when that water was salty then we would eat mackerel. Long lines of hooks trailed over the transom of proper wooden boats powered by Seagull outboard motors whose fuel has a wonderful smell that I can recall to this day; conversely, I have no idea of how the mackerel were later prepared and cooked. I just ate fish and bread and butter. When I became a man I put aside childish ways and started drinking wine which made me fall over a lot, very like a child, until I learnt how much I could drink without this happening…..often. I also learnt, from some wonderful people who aren’t in this story, how to shop for ingredients, prepare and cook them and finally how to eat and share them with pleasure. Oddly enough, I still haven’t grown up enough to like fine dining which I fucking hate. Food, as served in small French restaurants and bistros, was what I liked then and is, indeed, what I like now. Maquereaux au vin blanc is such a dish. It is very cheap, very easy to prepare, delicious to eat and very satisfying to look at, which qualities are, to my mind, the sine qua non of good food.