Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Regional issues and haddock leanings

Today has been all about Brandade.

The word Brandade comes from the Provençal verb brandar, meaning to stir, (which activity I admit to relishing in all its guises). It is alleged to have originated in Nimes but is well travelled and some might say dreadfully bastardised; these accusations can as always be refuted by vague mumblings regarding regional variation. My brandade, I shall now assert, is Toulousain in origin due to the garlic content. Languedoc and Provence can whistle. On this occasion only, you understand.

Adolphe Thiers, 17th Prime Minister of France was known to receive illicit pots of the substance from his historian friend Mignet – these he ate furtively, and it is said exclusively in his library, where one might have assumed that his full attention would and should have been absorbed with affairs of state. There is no accounting for the rampant appeal of garlic and slightly rotten fish, it seems. Perhaps the Southern muck left him spent, and thus immune to other lascivious and risky entertainments that a man of his position ought avoid.

We’ve previously had brandade on our menu, but noted a slow sell, perhaps due to the word ‘salt’, and I recall substituting the salt cod for equally challenging smoked eel last summer, to mine and Camille’s (only) delight. Today’s brandade featured menu friendly smoked haddock and I therefore hope to see it ravaged by tomorrow morning. Not least because I’m experiencing a sudden resurgence in my fondness for smoked haddock and cannot reasonably subject my public to smoked haddock and bacon chowder, or smoked haddock and chard tart until the menu is again haddock free.

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