Soupe de Poissons

Soupe de Poissons
This morning I opened The Soup Book and decided to make soupe de poissons by Marie-Pierre Moine. It contains onions, leeks, mixed fish and seafood, dried fennel stalk, tomatoes, garlic (lots of it), flat-leaf parsley, bay leaves, dried orange peel, tomato puree and saffron.  The suggested accompaniment is croutes rubbed with garlic and spread with rouille (a spicy garlic sauce) or topped with Gruyere cheese. 

Getting the ingredients together required some effort. I cheated by using frozen prawns from the freezer, fresh fennel, fresh orange peel and curly-leaf parsley (from the garden - the slugs haven't eaten it all!).  The spouse had told me about a new fish shop on Upper Rathmines Rd and I was intending to go there on my way home from town this afternoon, but on my way into town I spotted a fish shop near Portobello Bridge. There and then, while sitting near - but not in - my favourite seats on the bus I resolved to call in on the way home.  So when carrying out this mission I had to communicate with a young man for whom English was not the first language.  I had to get him to understand that I wanted a mixture of different fish and he had to identify them for me. Salmon I recognised, but not the haddock and another white fish which he said was called "pangas." More about this fish later.  Anyway, just over a kilogram of fish cost over Eu18 (fish is not a cheap option).

When the soup is ready you leave it to cool for a while, "stirring and mashing down the soft fish pieces with the back of a large wooden spoon", and remove the fennel, orange peel and bay leaves. You can then puree it in a blender or push it through a chinois (a conical sieve) or a fine sieve. I checked with the family if that's what they wanted or would they prefer lumps of fish in the soup. The majority wanted lumps of fish, but the spouse ended up whizzing the younger offspring's portion with a hand-held blender. I prepared croutes and rouille and we tucked in. It was very tasty, but I think I would puree it next time.  There's some left over but it can't be frozen. 

Problems with pangasius

Pangas, or pangasius as it seems to be better known, is mainly farmed in Vietnam and the rapid growth in pangasius aquaculture has given rise to a number of environmental and social concerns. The World Wildlife Fund categorises these concerns as legal, land and water use, water pollution and waste management, genetics and biodiversity, feed management, health management and social responsibility.  

Back to the bees

The last week has been really buzzing with bee references! On Wednesday evening I turned on the radio in my bedroom and heard Ross McDonnell talking about his film Colony, which is being shown at the Irish Film Institute (IFI) this weekend (more precisely, from the 23rd to the 29th July). The next day I tuned in and heard a reference to the World Cup in South Africa and the buzzing of the vuvuzelas. Yesterday evening the spouse and I were watching Gardeners' World (we haven't had access to BBC2 for months!) and there was an item on bee boxes (more on this later). Then this morning when checking my e-mail I came upon my first alert from the County Dublin Beekeepers' Association, which was about Colony at the IFI!!! (By the way, this year's Dublin Honey Show takes place on Saturday 6th November at Christ Church Hall, Rathgar). 

Bee boxes 

I am very interested in making bee boxes or else getting the older males in my family to make them for me.  Last night's feature on Gardeners' World showed bamboo canes as one of the main materials required and I am accumulating bamboo canes in my back garden as I prune the plants outside my kitchen window. The canes are turning that familiar honey colour just now.  Below are some links to bee box instructions: 
I like the idea of having a few bee boxes in my garden and maybe doing some guerilla gardening or guerilla bee keeping by placing bee boxes in suitable locations! The spouse has warned me not to put one in his car. 

Bee list celebrities 

I just remembered today that a few years ago I saw Boris Becker on South Anne Street in Dublin. Appropriate initials for this blog! Another famous bee or B I saw in the city centre was Bjorn Ulvaeus of Abba. I got his autograph - he wrote it on a birthday card for my sister, even wishing her a happy birthday! What a "Honey, Honey"! Sorry, I know it's not that funny but I couldn't resist.

The last laugh goes to MH who e-mailed me during the week to tell me she'd seen "a large, old fashioned bumble bee" in her garden. I quipped: "How do you know it was old fashioned? Was it wearing a bonnet?" She replied: "Bee serious, Minnie.  I will going to France soon. A bee-an-tot!" Well, it made me smile.


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