Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Smoked eel and the origins of chowder

This month is all about eels.
Camille arrived back from Chapel market bearing 'a present' , not an unusual occurence. I wondered if it was going to be a salami or perhaps a vegetable peeler, but no, it was a muscular water beast with leathery skin, in a plastic bag. I had a hangover so I only dealt with the tail end that day, having glimpsed its rapacious features lurking in the bag like a predator in a 'B' movie. The back end became an eel and ale pie, which sounded pleasingly Dickensian.
Later in the week the self same eel (now ripped apart sans qualms) was turned into a brandade, in the place of salt cod, and into smoked eel and bacon chowder. We had been discussing whether something as 'American' as a chowder should feature on our menu, but greed led me to some etymological research and I discovered that chowder comes from the French 'chaudière' , apparently some sort of three-legged iron cauldron in which fishermen made stews from the catch of the day, so as is so often the case, in went the cream and potatoes.
I sadly neglected to immortalise the eel in a photograph, but as it was certainly no oil painting, this may be for the best.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

We sell both eel and brandade at our local farmers' market. I must try making the later with the former - good idea.