Saturday 24 April 2010

No, not elvers.

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.

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  1. Mouth-watering story, Cro. Elver catching on the Severn is a dangerous business now, involving guns, etc. Not surprising when they fetch thousands of pounds a kilo at restaurants.

  2. I can see how exciting this would be to a young man, and I love how it stayed in your mind all these years. Is this little woodland shack still around?

  3. I've no idea, Amy. With all today's 'politically correct' rules and reg's; I doubt it!

  4. Such a great story. I love the nostalgic thoughts, sights, and smells. I would just love to go back to my childhood and be on a blanket in the backyard of our old home with a brand new box of 64 crayons, coloring book and Oz book. Those were the innocent days!

  5. Do you mean the Oz school kid's edition, with the pornographic version of Rupert Bear, Julie?

  6. What!?! Are you kidding? Ha ha! No. I mean the innocent books written by Baum, Thompson and Neil. Baum was the original writer of the Wizard of Oz and 14 books after that all centered around the Oz theme. When he died Ruth Plumly Thompson took it up and wrote 18 Then it was John R. Neil, 3 books. There have been a few authors since but these 3 authors are the ones I read. I devoured them. After Denslow illustrated The Wizard of Oz-John R. Neil became the illustrator for all 3 authors, including himself. Wonderful Art Nouveau style. So gorgeous and what a little girl would treasure!

  7. It's surprising that only one film was made (if that's the case). There was plenty of material for others!

  8. And of the stories about that film, my favourites are about the Munchkins, going out every night, getting drunk, whoring and fighting.


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