Canada Writes: Edible Non-Fiction Challenge

Thursday, 2 February 2012
I sit at my computer most of the day, writing and editing manuscripts that will boast other people’s names. Often, because of this, the last thing I want to do when I’m at home at night or on the weekend is sit in front of my computer pounding out words on my keyboard. With the exception of a few book reviews a year and my blog posts, I rarely prioritize my own writing like I wish I would. Soon, I will … I tell myself, but life gets in the way.

I made a lot of promises to myself at the beginning of 2012. (Some that I’ve kept; some that I haven’t). One of them was to write … write … write, and submit things (even if they’re bad!) as an exercise for myself. I’ve made these promises before and never followed through, so I was so pleased with myself when I submitted a short piece to the Canada Writes Edible Non-Fiction Challenge.

My piece trails off at the end, and it focuses too much on our travels, and not the food itself. (I’m always thinking like an editor!) However, I hit the submit button, sending it out for someone else in the land of the Internet to read, and that makes me pretty damn proud.  

Canada Writes: Edible Non-Fiction Challenge

Travelling anywhere with a chef has always been a unique experience, whether I’m on the receiving end of a satisfied grunt while he eats a Colville Bay Oyster in Halifax or a disapproving grimace as he slices into an overpriced entrée in downtown Toronto. This uniqueness has never been more evident than when we travelled to France, wandering the streets of Paris before crossing the country by train to the Côte d'Azur.

We couldn’t help but feel native to Nice on the morning we woke up just after the sun, walking to the daily fruit and vegetable market on the Cours Saleya, which only hours before had been brimming with tourists devouring seafood platters and pizza. It was here that my chef gathered the necessary ingredients for the most memorable meal of my life.

While he filled his bag with black and green olives, garlic, olive oil, and fresh chèvre, I tasted sundried tomatoes warmed by the sun. His quest for fresh ingredients didn’t end there. We took a short walk to Place St-François where an older lady’s ungloved hand ripped the guts from two mackerels before rinsing their blood in a nearby fountain at the fish market. She packed the mackerels in paper, alongside our final additions, two gigantic prawns and some squid.

The mackerels marinated in a bath of olive, oil, and garlic housed in a tiny fridge usually reserved for university dorm rooms, while we strolled the Promenade des Anglais. Hours later, my gracious chef placed them in the oven, their aroma quickly filling our shoebox-sized apartment. Finally, we each cut into his delicious creation, finishing each bite with a swig of obscenely inexpensive champagne.

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