Who called the cook a c…t?.. Who called the c…t a cook?…..

mackerel_raw2_5Apparently mackerel skies can herald an approaching depression in the same way that the look in my wife’s eyes heralds her approaching depression at the sight of a bag of charcoal in my hand. With our fridge  packed with mackerel, purchased on account of their health giving properties and seductively, attractive cheapness, I felt it may be time to cook some of them, and to cook them in sight of their namesakes that were soaring some 30,000 feet above my head, presaging more  rain to extinguish what is left of the inappropriately named blazing June. It does not need much insight to notice the hubris in this plan. Cooking on a barbecue in the open air, with the portents of an imminent deluge racing headlong across the grey firmament above the proposed cooking site, is begging the fates to empty a bucketful of depression on the spluttering charcoal below. I laugh in the……. I should point out that this is being written before the attempted fish cookery, so I might not be laughing in the face of adversity a bit later but  resorting to the old Navajo trick of kneeling, begging and pleading: pace Woody Allen.

Coinciding with the first suggestion of summer, in the Northern hemisphere, comes the appearance of a seasonal race of people, who claim the ability to cook on open fires as second nature. I am not amongst them, and if truth be told, nor are they. The simple act of lighting the charcoal produces in me a similar reaction to early man’s first finger burning experience: a mixture of wonderment and pain. Charred fencing and scorched earth  bear testament to my experiments, with food and fire, in every corner of our small garden. Amongst the drawings, that archaeologists of the future will find on our cave wall, will be one depicting a harried woman bludgeoning an apron wearing septuagenarian who is trying to burn down their cave whilst incinerating a fish.


My earlier manipulations of a chicken’s entrails had foretold success and fine weather. How right those entrails were: henceforth, all chickens beware. In the future I shall not be listening to forecasters, or one in four casters, rather I shall be plunging my arm up a chicken’s fundament to get an accurate prediction of the expected hours of sunshine. While others in smart bars on La Croisette check their Rolex barometers for the coming days weather, I shall be sitting at a nearby table, with my trusty cock in my hand, content  in the full knowledge of that which is about to come my way.

mackerel_bbq_23Back to the mackerel. The impetus for this atavistic cookery moment was a very good recipe by Tom Parker Bowles which appeared in one of my least favourite places – daytime television. Fish cookery, of the mackerel and sardine school, invariably leaves its olfactory mark on the interior of a small house in the same way that cats can do. The scent, a euphemism if ever there was one, hangs around for too long. The television version showed the cookery taking place in a well ordered kitchen, as is the way with the fairy tale that is television cooking. At one point it was mentioned that this dish would be even better prepared on a barbecue. I looked out of our window and noticed that summer was pouring down in stair rods. Fuck it, I thought, creatively, I shall swim to the shops and maybe catch a mackerel or two on the way. And so it came to pass. The sea parted and the sun shone down on my bowl of burning charcoal. In thanks to the powers that bring sun, I sacrificed a brace of mackerel and they were delicious. Here follows the recipe:Mackerel -spiced bbq

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2013, Art photography, BBQ, Chicken, Cookery Writers, Cooking, Coriander, Digital photography, Emotion, Excellence, Excess, Expectation, Fish, Flat parsley, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, Fresh peas, Garden, Health, Herbs and Spices, Humour, Kitchens, Luck, mackerel, Mint, offal, Photography, photography course, Photography holiday, Poultry, Prosciutto, Recipes, seafood, Shopping, Spiced mackerel, summer, Tom Parker Bowles, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Weather, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Who called the cook a c…t?.. Who called the c…t a cook?…..

  1. I never met a mackerel that I liked, but applaud you for cooking a recipe that you enjoyed. My last attempt at entering the good health world via mackerels was buying a can of mackerel shipped from Alaska. Since Thumper the rabbit, in Bambi, taught me the lesson that of you can’t say anything nice about someone don’t say anything at all, I won’t tell you what I thought of the can of mackerel.

    • Extraordinaty synchronicity. Canned mackerel appear to be the staff of life here – God knows why, as there is so much wonderful fresh seafood. However, I was tempted to try a tin of mackerel fillets in mustard sauce, and I would rather have needles in my eyes, as Jack said, than ever eat another tin of mackerel 🙂

  2. Mad Dog says:

    If only they’d told the Vestal Virgins about predictions by cock…
    Great mackerel pictures 😉

  3. Michelle says:

    I can’t stand the things, Roger. But you’ve certainly made them look beautiful!

  4. lulu says:

    I’ve never eaten mackerel, but when they are running in the harbor lots of people are on the pier catching them. With lots of fresh fish available that I like better, I just may pass on the mackerel and take your word they were good.

  5. I seem to be an odd one out among your commenters so far – I love mackerel (although not in tins) and especially barbecued mackerel, one of the few fish that I find the flavour worth the horror (my horror) of fish bones. These look like a worthy sacrifice to the weather gods!

  6. Karen says:

    Your mackerel look beautifully cooked but what I think sounds especially good are the pickled vegetables.

  7. Eha says:

    Now you say you do NOT watch daytime television: well, thank God your alter ego did as you have given us one hell of a recipe,Mister 🙂 ! Like Karen, I love the sound of these pickled vegetables!!! And why does it seem to me you would not have minded an iota sitting in one of the ‘smart bars on The Croisette’ instead of potentially burning down house and home 😀 ! Hmm? Oh, mackerel: I rather like ’em if not burnt to a crisp and will kind’of admit to having opened a tin or two and then ‘done things to it’ . . . !!

  8. ChgoJohn says:

    First risotto and now mackerel? I seemed to have developed the ability to predict others’ recipes. (Could the lottery be next?) Just tonight I baked a few mackerel for myself, with an eye towards a future post. To be honest, I would have grilled mine if I thought I could get the results you did. Good job, Roger, and, as always, excellent photos.

  9. “The scent, a euphemism if ever there was one..” I guffawed, Roger. Just guffawed.

  10. Brilliant Roger, this one had me in stitches – and beautiful shots even if I, like many others, will only eat the buggers if forced!

  11. rick deslandes says:

    Roger dear boy – how come you had sunshine chez toi ! I’m moving house .

  12. They look amazing! I’m not too much of a fish person… But these are looking at me with their white eyes and telling me “Roger has done all the hard work, you just have to eat me”. 😉

    • This post has surprised me with the unpopularity of the excellent mackerel. Classic bistro “maquereaux au vin blanc”, the fact that gooseberries are called “groseilles de macquereau” – I think mackerel must be a French thing:)

  13. Tandy says:

    I shall have to try the recipe. We have placed our gas barbecue in what will one day become the scullery of the main house, thereby circumventing the need for rain dances!

  14. rick deslandes says:

    forgive the pedantry but …….
    a rain dance is supposed to make it rain – isn’t it ?

  15. rick deslandes says:

    and by the way if you believe that Omega 3 wards off just about everything other than senility

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