There is a Bialetti coffee pot growing mould in the larder. I’m not sure how long it has been there for, but I am fairly sure it was mouldy when it moved with us to this house 3 years ago, and had probably been mouldy for some time before that. Why hasn’t it been thrown away? Rather like the partridges (yes, they’re still in the fridge – yesterday Dad was on the verge of chucking them, before deciding to have a leg for lunch, before wimping out when I told him I had bought some ox tongue at the butcher), the coffee pot’s loitering is a result of a fear of wasting anything. Quite why a furry percolator or rancid birds will be wasted or missed I can’t fathom, but one thing is for sure – this is a habit which is showing no signs of slowing down, what with Mr. Brown’s encouragement for us NOT TO WASTE FOOD. But we’re missing the point. He’s not saying ‘don’t throw food away’ thus creating a sub-culture (culture, get it?) of grime in the fridge, he’s saying don’t let it get to the point where things go off and need chucking – only buy what you’re going to eat. So if you only need 200g beans, don’t buy 400g just because it is two for one. It’s backwards economics and leads to you having a fridge full of crap you don’t want or need.
Dad’s a real culprit, in the best possible way. His post-war Yorkshire upbringing led to a frugality often beyond comprehension. One day we had about 40 pheasants to gut. 4 or 5 bin liners were laid out, on which we drew the birds, making an incision in the bird’s bottom with a sharp knife and cutting diagonally along towards the thigh for two or three inches, before bravely plunging a hand inside and pulling out the innards. All in all it took us a very messy couple of hours to do this and put the birds in freezer bags. As we were washing our hands, Dad starting washing the bin bags. When asked what the hell he was doing, he explained that he wasn’t about to throw away ‘perfectly good’ bin liners. It beggars belief. Last night I returned from the market with a 3 pound rainbow trout I had bought for our supper. He was horrified – there is a ‘perfectly good’ river nearby where he could have caught a fish and saved us £4. I apologised, more to appease him than because I was sorry – there weren’t many fish in the river, and what there were were tiny – and cooked the thing –
Gut and clean a 1.5 kg trout, and slash the flesh deeply, four times on each side. Into each incision push a sprig of thyme. Season the fish inside and push in a few slices of lemon and a handful of parsley. Place on foil and half wrap. Pour over a slug of olive oil and vermouth or white wine, wrap up completely and cook for 25 minutes at 190C.
We ate it with rosemary roast new potatoes and a green salad. As Dad is mopping up the salad juices he confesses that the last fish he caught and ate, a couple of weeks ago, was white-fleshed and muddy tasting. Sometimes it’s worth spending a few pounds for something edible.