Monday, 3 August 2009


The Australian has a great yarn on the worlds best food experiences from readers.

this is our particular favourite
"While tootling around the far-north Japanese island of Hokkaido, one morning my husband I found ourselves on a windswept wharf, the fishing boats and trawlers tantalisingly empty. My husband, who possesses the food instincts of a gourmet bloodhound, pointed at a nondescript door, through which a few people came and went: "Let’s go in there". We entered a shopfront where glistening fish was piled high on ice – tiny, brilliant red prawns encrusted with bright blue roe, dinner-dish sized scallops, the prized starlight squid. After much pointing and gesturing, the fishmonger unfolded a card table, plonked it in the middle of the bare room, tipped some soy and a smudge of wasabi onto paper plates with a great pile of the prawns, and offered us tea made from the local, dried seaweed. The moral of the story? For one door to open, you sometimes have to knock on it."

For us, the following food memory is enduring.

On the coldest and windiest of nights over 45 years ago we would be sitting in the tiny "pluckhole" on the muttonbird (titi) island - a small square room in the workhouse, that fitted about 6 people all pulling the first layer of feathers from the fat titi. Occasionally the men would stop for a quick swig from a big bottle of beer, the women pausing for a sip of sweet tea from enamel mugs. All the time the men and women wove tales of the past to clothe us for the future.

With the last of their down still on the birds, they were passed out of the pluck hole and another group of men and women dipped the birds into hot water .With an ancient rhythmic swipe, the last fluffy undercoat disappeared from the titi leaving them clean naked . They were then hung from the rafters to dry.

In another corner of the workshed on an old range, a Kerosene tin rocked as it boiled away - full of muttonbirds simmering in nothing but a seawater broth. Its rangetop companions were an old black boiler of mussels steaming away, in their own juices. In a third pot, cod heads peeked out - looking like they were fleeing their only companion - an onion.

After a hundred or so birds had been plucked clean and hung to dry, old Maxy Skipper would pull down the pail of oily titi, the mussels and codheads putting them on the floor, the heady scents driving us crazy and we generations all, would sit around on beer crates and apple boxes, wipe our hands of the last of the feathers off on our overalls and dip in and grab a piece of bird or mussels or a cod head.
Faces and hands grease smeared, we grinned at each other in shared delight of the sublime and subtle flavours. Us kids loved to watch Maxy. He played the boiled birds like a harmonica - in one side of his chubby moosh went the oily legs of a bird and out the otherside came the cleaned white drumstick - all in the blink of an eye and the lick of his chops.

Poetry it was - poetry.


Anonymous said...

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Download information- Do not publish any information.
But beware of the MEAnz cover-up.
Read draft folders- open all folders- take information.

Sorry about spelling mistakes on email account. Rushed job.

kehua said...

Lovely story BB I can smell the pots and feel the grease. kapai.