Christmas Eve carp





‘In Poland and East Germany it is usual to have carp in grey sauce (szary sos) on Christmas Eve. The fish is cooked with it scales on and everyone treasures a scale or two in their purse to bring them good luck in the coming year. Sometimes the sauce is made with a mixture of beer and red wine or with red wine alone – carp in red wine is a New Year’s Eve dish in some parts of Germany’
Jane Grigson’s Fish Book

langoustine/ Dublin Bay Prawns


They’re really nice but

a) too expensive for what you get
b) shelling them is annoying. I was grumpy afterwards.

Plus they’re creepy to look at, though also beautiful

I just cooked them in salted water and dipped them in mayonnaise, but the big bag of farmed mussels you could pick up for the same price is better value.

So no more Dublin Bay prawns for me thank you very much. Unless of course you’ve shelled them and are paying for them in which case, yes please!

Jesus and the supermarket – community

When I get my meat at the butcher we have a bit of banter. He is a nice guy.
When I get my vegetables at the market the guy at the counter knocks a bit off because I’m a regular customer. No need for Tesco Club card points.
When I get my spices at the stall the French lady asks me what I’m cooking and puts some extra in.
When I get my fish from the fishmonger he calls me ‘big lad’ and also recognises that I am a regular customer.

There is joy and even excitement in the weekly shop because there is an element of human relationship. It feels like a fair exchange has taken place in community which strikes me as a very important and even Christian way of doing things. We’re in the relationship business are we not?

However when I go to the supermarket the whole process is anonymous and alienating. It is almost impossible to build up human relationships as the store is too big, the staff wear the same uniforms and have been processed like the fruit they sell so that one staff member look identical to another, in much the same way as one soldier looks the same as another soldier.
It’s not their fault either, they have to do it so that they all uphold brand values and allow the pile of Mammon on the end to keeps on growing. They don’t have time to talk because they are treated like the  commodities they sell by the system. Time is money.

It doesn’t make for a joyful experience as the human relationship is deemed unimportant. Ideally supermarkets and big stores would like you to scan in your groceries which would eliminate the one opportunity you have to talk to another person.  Even then the person on the tills often doesn’t have time for banter as there is a queue building behind and the general manager is watching from a top window. That is why self scanning tills are the pits.

That’s not to say that small store owners are destined to be nice or particularly friendly, but at least it’s on a human scale you get a handle on. They’re maybe rude but perhaps it more like your neighbour being rude. In a large store it seems more like a stranger being rude.

Supermarkets want to create some type of brain washed super human who only can be nice to customers. I know this because I worked as the door greeter in B&Q for months being the friendly smiling face that greeted the customer at the door. It didn’t matter if you are having a shite day, you had to smile and be nice. And it was the same on the tills or in the flooring section. You had to be nice because the ‘Mystery Shopper’ was always on the prowl, waiting to give the store a poor mark based on your lack of people skills.

You never knew who the mystery shopper would be as the store was too big and too many customers passed through in a day. People are largely anonymous. In a small store or shop a stranger might be noticed.

Not sure what I’m saying. Maybe just that despite their bluster supermarkets and large stores aren’t helpful for community, or not as helpful for community as small independent stores.


Today at St. George’s Market I bought some scad from a reasonably grumpy fishmonger. Perhaps it was because he was doing a half price fish sale that he thought it gave him the licence as well to be grumpy, but it has put me off buying from him again. There is no point doing a promotion if you’re going to ruin it with grumpy service.

But back to the scad.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Nick Fisher make mention of it in the River Cottage Fish book as a fish that we should eat more off. They write:-

‘the Japanese, who know a thing or two about fish, adore scad. It is one of the most popular species in Japan, and is used in all manner of traditional dishes, including sushi and sashimi…..Boxes of just-landed scad are electronically tagged with barcodes containing full details of when, where and how the fish was caught and landed.  When these fish are cooked in a restaurant, the barcode is presented to diners so that they can scan it into a camera phone and read the profile of its source and capture’

Also The Islandman Tomás Ó Criomhthain mentions it a few times in his book as a fish they ate on Great Blasket Island. But I had never bought it before until today. Anyway, after some gutting the fish is ready to go baked with some cider and apple for tomorrows dinners. I’ll let you know how I got on with it..