Friday, 6 February 2009


“May the holes in your net be no larger than the fish in it.” - Irish Blessing

I have just returned from Adelaide where I was for work and flying home on the plane, the arid, sere landscape of our landscape here in Victoria was obvious in its most extreme and awesome extent. Tomorrow we are expecting a temperature of 43˚C and then another hot day on Sunday before cooler weather arrives next week. We may have had a long winter last year and a cool summer to begin with in December, but we are certainly feeling the heat now. Adelaide usually has weather hotter than Melbourne but the landscape seemed slightly less dry than here, mainly because of the bore water many people access and the irrigation from the Murray and Torrens Rivers.

During my stay in Adelaide I had an excellent meal in a little café, which comprised of an old Australian (and British) standard, “Fish-and-Chips”. The good part about it was that the fish was very fresh and was King George whiting (this is a rather expensive fish that is usually served in the better restaurants) rather than the “Flake”, “Cod”, “Butterfish”, etc (served in most fish-and-chipperies). Here is some information about this delectable fish, taken from the Fish Victoria site.

The scientific name for this fish is Sillaginodes punctata and it can be fished in most temperate waters around Australia, with good catches in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and New South Wales. One can have a hard time finding this fish in the markets as it is snapped up by the restauranteurs, on account of it being the largest and best tasting of the whiting family, easily filetted and easily cooked. And of course, this means that usually when one wants to eat it, one has to go out and have it rather than cooking it for oneself at home.

For a sea-girt nation like Britain (and Australia, of course), the popularity of “Fish-and-chips” is hardly surprising. Fish tends to be a staple food of these sea-girt and sea-going nations. The popularity of the potato ever since it came from the New World is also hardly surprising, given its nutritiousness and ease of cultivation. The happy combination of chipped potatoes and battered fish all fried in fat is perhaps the thing that the British should be thanked for, but this is disputed and the Germans, Scandinavians and the Irish claim the dish as their own also.

The eating of “Fish-and-chips” is widespread in Australia, especially so on Fridays, a relic of the fasting days when people used to take any notice of them. The meal was traditionally wrapped in newspaper at the shop, but nowadays, white butcher’s paper is substituted. Vinegar and plenty of salt are served with the meal, although nowadays the gourmet influence dictates an accompaniment of Tartare sauce and lemon. The animal fat that the fish and chips were fried in has now been substituted by vegetable oil, much to the disgust of the purists, but the cholesterol spectre has been to blame for this and most people are chastened by its mention…

Enjoy your weekend!

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