24 Oct 2013

The evolution of the fish finger sandwich

Regular readers will remember this post where I upgraded the fish finger sandwich with hand-sliced black olive bread. Well, it has evolved further. Out of necessity. 


I wouldn't go as far as to cite the 'necessity is the mother of invention' proverb. And I think I can be pretty sure that Plato did not have fish fingers on his mind, or his plate, when he, allegedly, used those words. 'Necessity is the impulse to scour the cupboards' would be more accurate.

But talking about 'invention', who invented the fish finger? And yes, it was Captain Birdseye! Well, almost. It was a Mr Scott, of Birds Eye, who developed the fish finger at their factory in Great Yarmouth. It was gifted to the world in 1955 at a Brighton sales conference.

The Americans, as is often the case, apparently beat us to it with their 'fish stick' in the 1920s. Fish stick? Not very inventive at all. 

I found these and other insightful details about the FF in a 2010 article in The Telegraph. Google also nets you page after page of sites talking about the FF sandwich: posh, perfect, homemade, ultimate, world's best, deluxe. 

In this case it seems that necessity is the mother of repetition.

And my latest contribution to this over-crowded culinary debate? 
  1. A wrap. 
  2. A generous couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise mixed with finely chopped sweet and sour gherkin. 
  3. Shredded romaine lettuce.
And yes, necessity was at play. I spent the whole day scraping window sealer from the edge of the two dozen wooden frames in our new greenhouse. I wanted feeding quickly. I wanted comfort, taste, with a kick of originality. And I wanted to use up the fish fingers (the usual leavings from a visit of family munchkins) before they developed a deeper crust of freezer dust. 

Hungry Writing Prompt
Write about what is necessary in your life. And what is unnecessary. 


16 Oct 2013

Flat and flatter: cars and ducks

(Please don't worry - there's no direct relationship between the car and the duck!)

There's a flatness to grey, wet weather, don't you think? Everything might be exactly how it was yesterday, every building, every tree, even the colour of the grass, but when I look out of the window it feels pressed upon, weighted down. It's like the sound an old bruise might make. The smell of a damp towel.

And just when you think things can't get any flatter:




But I called a very nice man. A very, very nice man. In fact, in the handful of times I've had to use a breakdown service I've never met an un-nice man. It's not just that they solved the problems: changed a tyre, refilled an empty fuel tank, or took me home. It's the manner in which they handled all that. They're like magicians: they make anxiety disappear. But that is coming from a woman who generally doesn't look under the bonnet of her car; a woman who has been meaning to get out the owner's manual for the past five and a half months, to find out how to change the clock forward an hour, and who realises it's not really worth it now. In two weeks time she'll only have to change it back. 

Flatness needs a non-flat antidote. And this was mine:



I used to buy this duck confit when I lived in Antibes: I nabbed this one in Carrefour during a shopping trip at the Cite Europe on the other side of the Channel Tunnel. 

Taste and simplicity: you empty the tin into a large saucepan, allow the duck fat to melt and the duck legs to warm through. Et voila! Pour off the fat, use the meat in a salad, as I did, or as the base for a 'duck' cottage pie. Or just scoff it off the plate on its own. It has been known.

I made a salad dressing with a couple of tablespoons of the melted duck fat, some home-made orange jelly and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

And all my flatness disappeared. And a little more roundness took its place.

Hungry Writing Prompts
Write about changing shape.  


9 Oct 2013

Dancing with the pig

Lunch menu at The Potted Pig
A pig that lives in a vault. A pig that keeps eclectic company. A salty, savoury, gently pulled pig. A pig from Cardiff. A Potted PigAnd dance I did: metaphorically and literally.

An old school friend had recommended this Cardiff eatery although Google shows that it ranks pretty highly for a lot of people, including Jay Rayner, food critic at The Guardian, who chewed and drooled throughout his review after it opened in 2011.

I booked a table on-line and chose the offered option for the set two course lunch at three o'clock. Nice to have a late lunch: the R&R after a necessary shopping spree in the city with my sister. But the restaurant called the day before to say that their on-line booking system was playing up. They only served until two so could we come then instead? And I'm pleased I did. 

If you're a fan of cockles, you're going to love the next photo. If you're not... you really need to rethink your eating habits. I know that they're not the most photogenic of creatures. I know that bi-valve isn't the most inspiring gastronomic term. But once they're cooked they tighten to a sweet chew and combined with laver bread and bacon on lightly toasted sour-dough bread they are the food equivalent of a hot tango with Antonio Banderas. I told you I was dancing. 


Cockles, bacon and
laver bread on toast
The choice of main courses wasn't as enticing or as varied as I'd have liked: pork chop (pass), pasta with courgettes and peas (boring), grilled plaice (something I could do at home), burger (just no), BBQ pulled pork sandwich (do I really want bread again?) and a philly cheese steak sandwich (ditto). In the end I chose the pulled pork and discarded the bread and, Wow. The combination of soft pork, spicy sauce and a crisp red cabbage coleslaw sent me whirling around the floor with Snr. Banderas again. 

My literal dancing was something of a surprise. The rain was washing the city clean as we came in and we were warned that the floor might be a bit slippy. A BIT slippy? Imagine Dancing on Ice meets Julie Walters' Mrs Overall from Acorn Antiques and you'd have a pretty good idea of what it felt like, and what I looked like, walking across the wooden floor from reception to our table. 

And there was a little bit more dancing before my day was over. A large (and I use that word without any hint of exaggeration) spider scampered across my sister's foot while she was watching TV that evening. Riverdance had nothing on her. 

Hungry Writing Prompt
Write about dancing, about music and movement, about delight.


The Potted Pig's BBQ pulled pork with red cabbage coleslaw and watercress with home-made chunky chips.