Thursday 9 October 2014

Though She be but Little, She is Fierce

Liz's Aer Lingus flight descends into Knock Airport
The eagle has landed. Liz is home and we are together again for a brief while. Other friends are looking after our good friend, Diamond for the moment, though Liz will probably return for another stint in a couple of weeks. She got on well 'over there', they successfully moved Diamond and John into the new house and set up all the rooms ready for Diamond, though she was for the last part of the week not actually present, being briefly admitted to medical care for some treatments. She has not actually moved in yet or indeed even seen the new house furnished. Liz also enjoyed catching up with various UK friends from our Kent days.

While in Kent she also got a chance to call in at everyone's favourite deli, farm shop and purveyor of all manner of foreign foods and drinks (Italian, Deep South, African, Greek and many many more), that being Macknade's Fine Foods of Faversham Kent. Macknade sensibly have a presence on modern Social Media, mainly Facebook and Twitter where they do some of that advertising which attracts a big group of people who "follow" their posts, "like" their stuff. They run competitions where if you re-post (re-tweet) their stuff you can win Macknade's goody bags and it was in one of these that both Liz and Mazy not only re-tweeted but then got into an "outrageously flirty" (Liz's words) riff with them, but whether it was that which won them the goody bags, they do not know.

Kent Cob Nuts - we planted a few here just to see.
Either way Liz was able to call in and collect her prize when she went shopping in there for stuff it is tricky to find over here - Patum Peperium, Angustora Bitters, Bloody Mary Mix, Zatarain's (Deep South) mixes for 'Dirty Rice' and 'Red Beans and Rice'. The prize itself was well worth while and not to be sniffed at - one of Macknade's new jute bags stuffed with packets of nice things - Earl Grey tea bags, Kent cob nuts, a goats cheese 'Camembert', fruit, chutney, fruit juice, beer and so on.

Is Liz trying to tell me something?
Liz also inherited a nice variety of unexpected and very generous presents including a lovely scarf which features pink piggies which is now in the wash - I will photograph that for the next post; I have claimed that one! Also a very nice bangle for Liz which carries the Shakespeare quote "...and though she be but little, she is fierce". You can get away with that, Diamond. I will refrain from comment. Naturally with all this new 'stuff' it was necessary, but worthwhile too, booking her luggage into check in (we normally fly with just carry-on luggage which restricts you to 100 ml of any liquid and 10 kg total). Amusingly half a dozen eggs is allowed because each individual egg (a well know terrorist device?) has less volume than 100 ml.

That bangle. Don't worry; that 'damage' in the pic is only
to a plasticky waxy protective coating.
Well, now Liz is back here and has her feet back under the table for a couple of weeks at least so I've had to hand back the kitchen after my welcome-home meal of chilli which I cooked on the Tuesday night. I do like my cooking and enjoy the chance to get in there while Liz is away. I also quite enjoy the shopping and when I am in, for example, a fishmongers, I will always look to see whether they have anything 'new' (to me); something I have never tried or tasted. They say, do they not, that you should try everything once except, famously, Incest and Morris Dancing.

Pangasius (white fish)
So there I was at the fresh fish counter in a nearby supermarket (Supervalu in Ballaghaderreen) looking down at some white-fish fillets labelled 'Pangasius' at only €2 per fillet and asking the assistant what they were, fully expecting a look of confusion and a blustered apology that she didn't know, was only covering for the butcher, has never heard of it either. Fair play to 'SV-Balla', the lady proved to be helpful and knowledge-able. Pangasius is a freshwater fish (actually something called a 'shark-catfish') commonly farmed all over Asia, eaten a great deal in the USA (where it is in the top ten on tonnage) all be it mainly used by the 'service food' boys (so, I guess, disguised as fish fingers, scampi etc) but also sold intact as 'Basa', 'Tra' or 'Swai'

Surprised that this hugely 'popular' fish had slipped my attention for 57 years, I put this to some of my friends in the USA and, to a man, they either denied all knowledge ('Someone else must be eating all those tonnes!') or advised me to not go there because this fish was cheap and unpopular, and also known as the 'Vietnamese River Cobbler' (I can see why SuperValu would not be using that name). I will speak as I find, though. I baked the fillets in a wrap of tin foil with just butter and slices of beef tomato so that I could be sure to taste the fish, and served it up with ruby chard and salad potatoes. It was OK. Quite a mild flavour, like whiting, so you'd not want to be blasting it with any spicy sauce, but fishy enough and with a good firm, meaty, flaking texture.

Guinea Fowl Feather
Well done SuperValu for risking putting that on the display; the Irish do not generally do much in the way of unusual fish, sticking when they do fish at all, to the well known salmon, trout, mackerel and so on. At €2 per fillet or €4 for 350 g it is also quite a bit cheaper than most Irish fish. I'd buy it again, anyway.

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