Sophie Grigson's introduction to this recipe in The Soup Book describes bouillabaisse as "nothing more than a humble fisherman's soup using the remains of the day's catch [that] has evolved into one of the great Provencal dishes." For the mix of fish she suggests gurnard, John Dory, monkfish, red mullet, prawns and mussels. The spouse took the list up to Fergal (his favourite fishmonger - by the way, that link will bring you to a radio item about the fish shop) and bought monkfish, John Dory, hake, salmon, tuna, crevettes and mussels. Not a cheap selection but only for the fishmonger's advice it would have been almost twice as expensive. I first mentioned this fishmonger in my blog on 16th August 2010 because he gave me a bag of samphire free of charge to try. Today he boned the fish. If I'd thought about it, I should have asked the spouse to bring the bones home so that I could make my own fish stock. The Soup Book advises soup-makers to ask fishmongers for bones when getting fish filleted and to check if they have any extra they can give you. Apparently, fish bones can be frozen for up to two months, but wrap them well.
The other ingredients of the bouillabaisse include onion, leeks, fennel, garlic, tomatoes, dry white wine, saffron, orange zest, bouquet garni and anise-flavoured liqueur (pastis). The finished soup is poured over croutes that have been spread with rouille. I first made rouille in July 2010 as an accompaniment to soupe de poissons and it was really delicious. I'm delighted to have made it again even though my fingers taste of chilli!
The four of us had the bouillabaisse for our dinner. The recipe stated that there would be enough for four, but we reckoned you could have fed eight! The older offspring looked into the big dekshee before I dished up. "Yes," he declared, "I'll be eating lots of bowls of that." In accordance with the recipe I spread rouille on the croutes and placed them in the bowls before ladling on the soup. Then we tucked into what was perhaps the best soup so far. The epithets were "awesome", "epic", "gorgeous." The older offspring must be rehearsing his lines somewhere. He suggested that the bouillabaisse justified higher species of animal eating several different lower species out of a bowl.
|Bouillabaisse in my big dekshee.|
|Bouillabaisse in a bowl.|
|Croutes spread with rouille await the bouillabaisse.|
Earlier this week I read "Wait for Me!" by Deborah Devonshire, who was the youngest of the famous or infamous Mitford sisters. When in my twenties I came across "The Pursuit of Love" by eldest sister Nancy. I was hooked and went on to read the other three books in what I think of as the Hon Frances Logan series. Impatiently I sought out Uncle Matthew's blunt way of speaking to people he found tiresome and pored over the fleeting references to Linda Radlett's youngest sisters. I have re-read them several times and they remain on my bookshelves, their spines grazed and creased. The books written before the Hon Frances Logan quartet were not as subtle or amusing and it didn't cost me a thought to part with them. Inexplicably I wanted to know more about Nancy and her family. I have read various biographies, some focusing solely on Nancy, some on the six sisters. Nancy, Diana and Jessica have emerged as the most interesting, so I hesitated before buying "Wait for Me!" I mention it only because of the references to honey and bees in Chapter 2:
[My father] also had a horror of anything sticky. I once asked him what his idea of hell was. 'Honey on my bowler hat,' was the answer. His all-seeing eyes spotted a spill anyhere on the long dining-room table. Honey, jam and marmalade were all high-risk, but the sight of Golden Syrup in its wonderful green and gold tin made him particularly nervous [...]. What a mercy that no modernizer at Tate & Lyle has tampered with the design of the Golden Syrup tin, with its picture of bees buzzing round a dead lion and the line from the Bible, 'Out of the strong came forth sweetness'.
A few items and their links are listed below:
A right royal protein;Why the hay fever drugs don't always work (Irish Times, 28th April 2011)
What's gone wrong with the flight of the bumblebee (Irish Times, 30th April 2011)
Hive-Mind (a blog about beekeeping in the USA)