A quick but hearty recommendation for an important book. ‘In Defense of Food‘, by Michael Pollan, offers a welcome perspective for anyone who is confused about what to eat, perhaps as a result of conflicting nutrition advice or the current scientific tendency to reductionist thinking which has resulted in an emphasis on nutrients over wholefoods. I am as concerned as Pollan about the current status of food science, where it seems to be a good idea to develop products such as omega 3 fatty acid fortified bacon. Nature did not intend this. We can (and it is getting pretty close to a must) tap into our own instincts and common sense about what to nourish ourselves with. Pollan explains more on his site: http://michaelpollan.com/books/in-defense-of-food/.
My trip to Europe was a fantastic excuse to explore local cuisines and try foods that I don’t usually come across in Australia. I continued my mission to encourage variety in my fish consumption by taking every opportunity to eat dishes that included new types of fish. Some of these were prepared in restaurants or pubs, like the wonderful battered Haddock and pan-fried Halibut with chunky chips and mushy peas at Steels in the English seaside town of Cleethorpes, and some were cooked for me by friends. Here is a selection of the highlights for me:
These giant sardines were cooked in front of us on a barbeque out in the street and served with garlic and olive oil potatoes, char-grilled capsicum and grilled squid. Small fish like this are a great choice especially if, like me, you tend to eat a lot of much bigger fish like salmon. The smaller the fish, the less time spent in the ocean accumulating waste. If you can eat the whole fish there are other benefits: skin and organs contain high levels of omega 3 fatty acids and bones are a great source of calcium.
This dish had a simple name but stacks of flavour. Based around Bacalhau, dried cod which is a specialty of Portugal (although often imported from Norway or Newfoundland), this was a new take on a fish pie with potato and leeks mixed with shredded cod and topped with a delicious cornbread crust. I love a good fish pie, an excellent way to include some vegetables in your meal.
The full title for this dish is much longer and fancier than my description, but that is to be expected from one of the most incredible restaurants in Paris. High above the hectic bustle of the Gare de Lyon, Le Train Bleu is an oasis. Scorpion fish is a notoriously venomous species, however I found the flavour was lacking something, until I tried all the elements of the dish together and realised that the fish had been balanced to take the vegetables into account. What a nice approach – a meal where the meat and veges work together in perfect harmony!
Our friends in Provence introduced these beautiful fish as Girelles royales. They were bought fresh that day and cooked for us on a barbeque hot plate. We ate them whole with bread, white wine and sunshine. Magnifique.
Time flies, and so have I!
A month in Europe was the perfect way to escape the coldest part of winter and have a well needed re-boot. It is easy to forget the value of a good holiday, I have certainly been reminded of the impact a real break from every day life can have on psychological well being.
I came home with fresh perspectives on some of the patterns I was stuck in and renewed creativity to help find a different approach. The challenge is to hold onto this freshness and integrate the new ideas with the rest of your life, and the other people you share it with!
Overall a valuable process which I recommend highly!