We all know restaurants that have engraved their mark on our taste buds. Strangely, or maybe not so, mine all date from my early years.
My mother took me to the famous Indian restaurant Veeraswamy's, off Regent St, when I was about 8 (fan-bloody-tastic). My father always took us to Schmidt's, in Charlotte St, from the age of about 6 onwards (sumptuous German mixed-grill). But the restaurant that really stands out was an unknown, back-woods, shack, somewhere in the north west corner of France, when I was about 10.
I was staying with a family in Dieppe, and they decided to take a trip. I've no idea where we went; I was probably in the back of the car reading Tintin. We passed through towns, villages, and non-world. Then lunch-time; and we stopped at a suprisingly busy shack.
It was really half-shack/half woodland, with a small stream running through the middle; and frankly, it was chaotic. We had soup, an entrée, and then BANG. Tiny fish were netted from the stream in a large round scoop, presented to us 'wriggling' at the table, then dropped into boiling oil by our side. They frizzled for a few seconds then were 'fished' out again, and served on a huge platter. It was pure theatre.
I would like to think that they were elvers, but I'm sure they weren't. They were very much fish shape, like miniature fresh-water sprats.
How I would love to eat there again, with my 10 year old mind and palate intact. It was an experience never forgotten. I'm sure that my love of food comes from these few exceptional restaurants of my childhood.
p.s. Isn't this a great photo! Sadly not one of mine. Proof that one can take quality snaps of almost any subject; if one knows what one's doing, and has the right kit.