My heart had been set on Red Mullet this morning when I went to Wards. Lying in bed before getting up I had fixed them on the barbeque cooking with some fennel and pine nuts and then eaten with a couple of salads.
But when I got there there was no Red Mullet. In their place they had a large plastic tray of Red Gunard. They’d had to take the small ones along with the larger ones. The tray was behind the counter and Simon let me come round to help myself. They were gloriously slippy and wet as if they had just come out of the sea. There was a temptation to fill a bag full but I was only feeding the family and I knew that not more than a few would be eaten.
In the grocers I told Nadir that I had bought some fish for the barbeque that evening. We were both looking forward to spending time out in the sun.
He told me that one of those meals that he could remember was grilled fish with a sauce. His family had taken a three storey house in Turkey and they were all there with his brothers coming from Germany and Iran. His mother had cooked small fish on the grill and she had made a sauce to go with with them.
I asked him if he could remember how she had made the sauce.
He couldn’t. She had made it and that was enough and the memory of how it tasted was with him and brothers still and they always remembered the sauce.
Before we ate from the barbeque I made a bowl of gazpacho – two bags of tomatoes from the grocers, two sweet green peppers, half a peeled cucumber, onion, olive oil, garlic (and more garlic), salt, pepper and a couple of slices of dried bread. It all went into the Magimix and was sieved before it went into the fridge to cool.
We also had some prawns in paprika and a squid marinaded in chilli, lemon juice and olive oil before being flash grilled.
I cooked the Gunard in fennel. As I took the fronds in my hand the smell of it took me back to the patch of ground behind the Cottage next to the pier where the fennel grows wild and salty from the sea.
We ate it all listening to Rod Stewart and The Faces.