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Fish night: Seared halibut aiolli garni

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We Are Never Full

(Read caption) Pan-roasted halibut with aioli garni and butter beans.

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I’m not very old, but for much of my youth in the north west of England, it was almost impossible to find fresh foods that weren’t local. Today such a statement seems like an echo of Victorian times, but, literally, that’s how it was until a supermarket was built behind the Knutsford courthouse in the late 1980s.  

I often tell my wife about the cheese stall at the weekly market only kept five kinds of cheese – Cheshire, Cheddar, Lancashire, and sage Derby were ever present, with perhaps a Wenslydale reasonably common, too. If anything as unusual as a Stilton, from distant Nottinghamshire, appeared, it would generate as much commotion among the town’s housewives, who elbowed their way to the front of the queue to catch a glimpse of this highly perfumed foreigner, as if Julio Iglesias showed up sporting his tennis shorts. My wife usually responds that I should count myself lucky because when she was young there were only four kinds of cheese at her local supermarket: white American, yellow American, cheddar, and Swiss and had anything else been available it would have been looked upon with extreme suspicion. Touché.

Making our weekly Tuesday rounds of the covered (indoor) market (the outdoor market sold mostly fruit and veg, bric-a-brac, and live pets, believe it or not) with my mother, on the cheese man’s left was the egg man, or “mister Chookie” as I knew him, on account of his perennial sales pitch “come tek a look at these lover-lee chookie eggs I’ve got for yuh!” Unlike his fellow stall-holders, whose wares fell within a particular genre, the egg man also sold milk, orange juice, and yogurt due to him being one of the younger siblings of the Sheldon family that owned the local dairy, and who, excepting market days, delivered these provisions to the doorsteps of the town’s residents.

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