Sunday, November 05, 2006

In prep for the Sunday feast

My grandchildren, according to the most extensive scientific survey ever undertaken into man’s effect on the global marine ecosystem, will probably never get the chance to savour, in adulthood, the joys of a fresh oyster on a Christmas morning or a grilled fresh mackerel in the later summer sun; an not a firm wild salmon steak for love nor money. The fish are doomed, basically. Worse still, the report comes just two days after we learn from the world’s leading economist that we are burning up. Even if we do all that we can immediately to cut our greenhouse emissions, we’re still facing human displacement on a scale never seen before. Finally, today some clever clogs has worked out that the cost to the UK of tackling, whatever that means, climate change is precisely teh same as that involved in upgrading our nuclear deterrent and maintaining it for the next 30 years.

So, rather than let it all get on top of me I jumped in my ten year old petrol automobile and drove a round trip of 20 miles to pick up a bit of salmon. If I’m going to burn up I’m going to be doing it with a mouthful. In fact, I learned today while chatting to members of my extended family in the airport shop, that the luxurious oyster I had consumed at Mr Blumenthal’s a month or two back actually came from the same clear plastic tub of shells staring up at me from the oh-so-familiar fish counter. The salmon too, and it turns out that my suspicions at the time while savouring the alien sensation of a liquorice parcel of room-temp cooked salmon melting on my tongue were well-founded: he buys-in farmed fish, rather surprisingly. The owner, Steve, happens to be good mates with Heston and rates him as a “top bloke” (apparently he was there on Day 1, cutting the ribbons …). Ramsey, on the other hand, lost all his accounts on account of his 90-day credit requests.

Oh well, before I start to sound like a celebrity column. I have in store a meal of memory tomorrow, a meat-fest for three hungry blokes – a half leg of salt-marsh lamb and a well-hung forerib of beef. And cream, so much fucking cream. I made the dauphinoise this morning in a big rush in between a humanity-searching trip to the horrific out-of-town Tescoland and a brisk walk in the crisp November air. Two-fifths or thereabouts celeriac andwrapped up safely in the fridge, as they will be at the wedding in a few week’s time. They were road-tested by the youngest, who stuffed her face with the creamy layers until she could take no more. It is going to be cholesterol blow-out tomorrow, the meat clotted between a creamy smoked salmon skink starter and a rich custard desert.

So tonight it was fitting to eat more nimbly, although as ever it never really turned out like that once the butter, oil, bread and salt had been factored in. Herring fillets, virtually free, rolled in the usual flour-egg-oat layers and fried until a nutty brown in hot butter; and with it a pile of herby leaves rolled in a sweet wholegrain mustard dressing and a large wedge of lemon. A lovely, lovely meal as ever. But it seemed for some reason even more juicy, fresh and delicious than ever this evening. And my sterile glass of chilled, sparkling mineral water, for once, could not have made a better match.

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