Salmon was a staple on our menu for years. It was always on in some form or other from smoked to baked to pan fried to being covered in lemon butter sauce to resting [shudder] on a bed of something. But that all changed about four menus ago when it was dropped. It was a shocking day, some people openly wept some danced with delight. I've always been rather ambivalent towards it. It's a bit of a meh fish for me.
But it's back for a while and in it's current incarnation it is, and this isn't a word I use very often unless I am complimenting Little Miss Manuel, divine. Seriously. That's why it's a pricey number, well that and the fact that it's wild salmon and not that stuffed-in-a-cage-without-room-to-roam-or-leap type that so permeates menus everywhere.
Our salmon is caught by a fisherman called Seamus McNobeard of the Donegal McNobeards, not to be confused with the Kerry McNobeards who are a rum lot of door to door mitten and scarves salesmen. "Ach come on now Missus will ye nat be buying me mittens, ach me oul mammy made them herself, from her sickbed she did. Ach come on now Missus der loverly mittens."
Seamus McNobeard, or Frank as he is called by his crew due to his fondness for the American rock trio ZZ Top, captains the good ship Fandango. A jaunty but sturdy trawler that is painted in the same colours as ZZ Top's famous Eliminator car. Frank and his crew of nare-do-wells, runaways, and men you have a fondness for saying, "Yaaaar" set sail from the village of Killybegs on a regular basis in search of everything from shrimp and salmon and herring and mackerel.
Trawler men such as Frank and his crew of misfits endure rough seas, hard weather, and sleepless nights to get their catches. They put out in all weathers, hehehehe put out, and can work for 24 hours straight without sleep just to get the job done. Working on a fishing boat is regarded as one of the world's most dangerous jobs with only loggers and the people who have to give Pete Doherty his monthly wash and scrape down coming anywhere near close to the same level of mortal danger. Think about that the next time you scoff at your mothers fish fingers and beans combo.
Even Frank himself lost a son to the sea, well it was his trusty spaniel who accompanied him on his voyages but he loved him like a son. Frank never married. "I'm married to sea you see. Oh I do like to be beside the sea you see and the fair handed maidens do not, you see, like to be beside the sea. Plus I smell like the inside of a catfish's arse on a hot day" said Frank recently in an article for "Big Nets Monthly" magazine. The premier magazine for lone trawler men. Frank was The Catch of the month for December.
I was thinking about Frank and the men who like to "Yaaaar" one night last week. It was a dark and stormy January night and not just outside. My guts were blustery and boisterous and blowing a gale all of their own. Thankfully it wasn't pishing down. I was loitering with intent behind my favourite velvet curtain and enjoying it's soothing ways. I was also pretending to be the ghostly child that may or may not have been in Three Men and a Baby. This made me chortle and took my mind off the shit storm that was brewing behind my apron.
Nice mental images there folks eh....
I had just served table 8 his wild salmon and crushed potatoes with fine beans and simple lemon butter which had been playfully drizzled over it with love and care. Or so I am lead to believe by the cooker jockeys in the kitchen. Whatever! But no matter how it was put on it did look delightful, delightful and delish. The gentleman I served it looked as excited as I was about his meal.
"Superb", blustered the lucky chap as I presented him with his meal. I was smiling like an honour student giving his parents his latest school report card. It was that good. So there I was standing behind my velvet comfort curtain watching him eating his salmon. He drank some wine, a pleasingly bone dry Chablis, fixed his napkin, lifted his fork, and then reaching across the table lifted his wife's dainty jug of pepper sauce and poured it over his salmon.
The absolute fucking waster. What care he of Frank and his crew of Yaaaar men? Or of the journey a salmon has to make from spawning grounds to the fish markets of Killybegs? Or of the chefs in the kitchen who lovingly and with the deftness of touch of a brain surgeon spooned the lemon butter sauce over his fish? What care he? He cares not a jot.
I did a little sick in my mouth and wept a little. What else was there to do? Guests eh? Break your heart they do. Or cover it in pepper sauce. Same difference I suppose.