There’s a superb episode of The Simpsons where various discussions of actor ‘Troy McClure are taking place:
Louie: Hey, I thought you said Troy McClure was dead.
Tony: No, what I said was: “He sleeps with the fishes”. You see…
Homer: You know, his bizarre personal life. Those weird things they say he does down at the aquarium. Why I heard…
Marge: Oh, Homer, that’s just an urban legend. People don’t do that type of thing with fish!
Now, before we go any further, I definitely have to point out that should you be a fish fetishist like Troy McClure then you won’t find anything of interest in this piece. But what I do want to talk about is late night TV, on a satellite channel, oh yes…
I’m not a great fan of cookery programmes – I cook a lot but don’t usually get much out of watching other folks cooking (except for the superb and much missed Keith Floyd) – but I can watch Rick Stein for hours. I love seafood – which helps enormously – and I love the combination of heartiness and simplicity that many of his recipes have. And he’s a great people person – watching him work with the local chefs in whichever part of the country (or world) he and his team end up in is always a great pleasure.
Stein scores for me in a very big way – I actually want to eat the stuff he produces. The other evening he cooked eels, and whilst normally I’d probably draw the line at eating them, I quite fancied trying one out. Then there was a (non-seafood) French hotpot dish that involved a side of belly pork, sausage and vegetables. Oh my….just the sort of stuff I love to eat.
It’s a great irony in my life that whilst I love seafood and the sea I live in Sheffield – a rather land-locked place which has the Irish Sea and the North Sea as the closest bodies of salt-water to get to. There is a good local fishmonger down in Hillsborough – Mann’s – and we’ve also got a couple of Sushi and Noodle bars in Sheffield City Centre which are pretty reasonable. But I would love to be able to go and eat in a dedicated sea-food restaurant, on the sea-front, somewhere. The only time I’ve actually achieved this was back in 1993 in Vancouver – and it was fantastic.
Back to Rick Stein – a second strong point for me is the love and passion he has for his craft and calling – and it comes out in what he does and his narration of the programmes. I like listening to people who are genuinely passionate about what they do – it comes out in every word they say, and in their body language. Floyd was the same – it’s something fantastic to see.
But having said all that, it was still a brave man who first ate an Oyster, and that’s one thing I’ll definitely not be eating!