Oysters for breakfast – Ward’s Fish, Birkenhead Market

I have written elsewhere about Ward’s Fish but there is a lot about them that is worth repeating. They are part of my weekly Saturday morning run to get good food for the weekend and there will be a lot more written about them in the months to come. But first a short story from when I was down there last weekend. It was food for the family so it had to be fish that hopefully all of them would eat – including the 2 girls – so it was going to have to be fillets of some sort – no bones allowed. As I waited to be served I noticed a tall, elderly man to my right with a badly bruised face. As I waited Simon open up two oysters, put them on a small black tray with a white plastic fork and a paper napkin. He placed this in front of the old man and said, “Here you go Ted”.

Ted took each oyster in turn and using the fork carefully slipped them off the shell into his mouth sucking at the salty iodine juice that was left behind in the shell. He wiped at his mouth with the napkin as Simon told the price had gone up since he was last there and they were now £5.00 each. I didn’t hear Ted’s mumbled reply but as he took out his wallet Simon corrected the price and he was the charged the proper 79 pence an oyster. Ted paid and moved slowly away back into the main body of the Market.

Simon told me that Ted had been coming to the stall for years, a couple of times a week, for his two oysters on the black tray. He had not been for six months and they all thought that was the last they would see of Ted. But he had been back for the first time that morning and explained that he had been away in hospital to have a new heart. Was it the oysters that kept him going?

We had hake that evening. Fillets for the rest of the family and a thick steak for me. I seasoned some plain flour with hot smoked paprika, salt and pepper. I dusted the hake with the seasoned flour and then fried it briskly in olive oil. We ate it with fried potatoes.

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