Something fishy about the clairvoyant
I am at the fish market and see that filleted salmon frames are only $4. They appear to have a lot of meat still on them, so I decide to give it a try. It’s a big fish, or at least it was. It’s still a long frame.
Even though we grow most of our own food. Protein is the most expensive part of any meal for us. Good quality meat or fish costs upwards of $30 per kilo. Of course there are cheaper alternatives, but I refuse to eat sausages. I’m trying to limit my fat, preservatives and salt intake and stay reasonably healthy, so I want to buy lean meat. Anyway, I only buy red meat once a month and I want to be able to feel good about what I’m eating when I do eat it.
Last month it was lamb shanks, cheap, flavoursome and when cooked slowly in red wine and reduced stock, the meat just falls off the bone and is quite delicious. I also buy chicken once a month as well. Some times its the whole bird. ‘The Lovely,’ skins it and boils it and from this she makes a great stock and the meat is separated and used for a number of meals. I’m not religious, so I also buy pork occasionally. Sometimes it’s the belly flap, boiled in our own home made cider and later, roasted to get that great crackling. This is a once a year treat. At other times I buy minced lean pork and we make gyoza from, pork, garlic and vegetable dumplings, in the Japanese style. Sometimes pan fried in our own homemade stock or otherwise steamed.
For the most part though, we prefer fish as our major source of protein and we eat it 2 or 3 times a week, two days I fast and the other days we eat vegetarian directly from the vegetable garden, with or without tofu. I’m not a vegetarian, certainly not a vegan. I’m an omnivore, but within limits. For 35 years we kept ducks and chickens. They are such good company and a lot of fun to watch and interact with. We ate them on a regular basis. That is why we kept them. I feel that the only way in which I can justify eating meat is if I kill it myself. Only then do you realise the significance of what you are doing and fully appreciate the meal. I never found it easy. I always had to steal myself for the act. It’s all about living in reality. Taking responsibility for your actions. Being independant and self reliant.
I don’t wish harm on any other living thing in general. But I’m not a Buddhist either. I think that if I take responsibility for the meat that I eat then, I’ve earned the meal.
One of the cheapest fish at the market here is the local coastal Leather Jacket, usually at or around $5 to $9 per kilo. It’s a lovely fish, firm and tasty meat, but it can’t be filleted. It must be cooked whole, so people seem to avoid it. I love it. I have no trouble in steaming it or pan fry/steaming it. I really like it, but you can’t eat it all the time. The small local blackfish are also good value too. Always economical, as the fillets are too small for most peoples taste. I also like to buy sardines or garfish when they are in season and appear in the market. However they only appear intermittently.
So tonight it’s going to be ’empty’ salmon bone fish cakes. I simmer the frame for a while, leave it to cool and then separate the meat from the bones. The bones are then returned to the ‘soup’ and boiled again to make a stock. I plan to make fishcakes with our own potatoes and with a hint of wasabe fresh from the garden.
Now wasabe is an interesting vegetable/herb/condiment plant. It is supposed to only grow in the high clear environment of the Japanese mountains, washed by regular misty rain and growing in among the rocks and stones of fast flowing mountain streams, never allowed to dry out, always moist and well irrigated with crystal clear mountain water, growing in the shaded environment of the deep rocky ravines.
Here in Australia, there is a small producer in Tasmania, down south in the clear mountain environment where all the stringent conditions of cool dampness prevail. We once saw a small tray of fresh wasabe roots for sale in the green grocers. They had had a power failure and all the fridges and coolers were broken down over the weekend, so everything was on sale or being thrown out. We grabbed the tray of wasabe. Our initial thinking was the grate it up to make our own wasabe paste, and we did do this with part of it, but I thought, why don’t we give it a try in the garden, it’s already sprouting from it’s warm weekend spent wrapped in plastic on the tray.
We planted it out in our hot dry exposed summer garden, but we did give it some shade cover, by cutting bracken ferns and sticking them all around to create some dappled shade. We also gave it a disproportionate share of the cloudy dam water from the hose when we were watering. Now three years on we have a small tough little patch of wasabe permanently in the veggie patch. It couldn’t be farther from its home or desired environment, but it lives on, even if it isn’t thriving.
I get to make 10 good sized fish cakes from my efforts. We eat half for dinner leaving some for tomorrow. Served with garden vegetables, they go down a treat. Two main meals and two litres of stock for a risotto another day. All very good value for $4.
We have been to a couple of music festivals recently. The highlight of the National Folk Festival music for me was Heath Cullen from the South Coast. He is really interesting and very talented. I really like the feel of his music, his style and presence. He’s like the love child of Nick Cave and Paul Kelly – if that were possible? With the breathiness, but sans the basso profondo, of Tom Waits. That sounds like a very strange description, but I think that it is kind of right. I bought both of his CD’s from him. This is wonderfully emotive music. It speaks to me. My favourite track is silver wings. Although at first listen, it appeared deceptively simple. However, on subsequent playing, I found it deeply moving once I got to listen to it more closely. It’s immediate musicality and catchy melodic line is eventually surpassed by the touching, slightly dark idly of the lyric. It has gothic references. “The black corn fields”, “The old grain silo by the railway track” and “magpies perched on power lines”, but ultimately there is some optimism. “I’m gunna to rise up”.
It’s as if it is a hymn to loss.
I like it heaps!
Try googling him;
I can’t wait to hear some more from him, as he has a new album on the way.
At Womad we saw and heard a lot of world music. The act that I liked the most at WOMAD was the Balanescu Quartet, really interesting and engaging. I enjoyed them immensely. I went to see them twice and was really interested and surprised to hear that each performance was different, playing completely separate pieces. I bought both of their CD’s that they had available.
I was thinking that I hadn’t heard of this quartet before, however, on inspection of some of my other CD’s when I got home. I thought that there was something a little familiar about their music, I realise that they are playing on the Michael Nyman CD that I have.
Try googling them;
This is what I downloaded from the WOMAD website;
Romanian virtuoso violinist and composer Alexander Balanescu boldly leads his string quartet across musical frontiers into uncharted territory. Pushing the limits over 25 years has resulted in the world-renowned Quartet collaborating with artists as diverse as Michael Nyman, Ornette Coleman, David Byrne, the Pet Shop Boys, Kate Bush and Kraftwerk.
and wikipedia tells me that;
The Balanescu Quartet is an avant-garde string quartet founded in 1987 by Alexander Balanescu that achieved fame through the release of several complex cover versions of songs by German experimental electronic music band ‘Kraftwerk’ on their album ‘Possessed’.
The quartet are mainly notable for their very distinctive style of music, which encompasses odd time rhythms, sound dissonances and complex arrangements. They have performed multiple works with a variety of other artists, including Philip Glass, David Byrne, Gavin Bryars, Michael Nyman, Rabih Abou-Khalil, Kevin Volans, Hector Zazou, Un Drame Musical Instantané, Spiritualized, Yellow Magic Orchestra and the Pet Shop Boys.
These CD’s are on high rotation in the kitchen, pottery workshop and/or the car. I’m really enjoying them.
On another occasion, while we were listening to a concert a person came and sat down next to us and we got to talking. He told us that he was a clairvoyant. He travels to all the country fairs with a soothsaying tent. The clairvoyant asked me what I did for a living and I couldn’t help myself from saying, that if you are a clairvoyant, you should already know that, surely?
That didn’t go down too well!
I’m so cruel!
What is it that I actually do again?
love from the uncertain sceptic and his lovely and talented assistant