We are privileged to introduce our nonagenarian blogger Robin from Foodari for the first in a series of historic views of food.
Foreign motorbike touring holidays during my annual leave had confirmed my preference for the small village of Le Canadel in the Toulon area as a stopping off place to the more popular and developed area around Nice and Cannes. It sits on a crescent bay half a mile wide and is ideal for swimming and was the scene of the first landing from N. Africa during the last war, commemorated by a stone on the beach. It was only some years later that I was to discover that Le Canadel had been chosen for health reasons by Sir Henry Royce, the great Rolls-Royce engineer, to set up a design centre from where he reputedly ruled the Derby Factory with a rod of iron. Royce is said to have sketched in the sand on the beach his chosen V-12 cylinder layout for the 36.7 litre ’R’ engine which was to win the Schneider Trophy outright for Britain in 1931 and in scaled down form become the ’Merlin’ which powered our fighters and bombers in the last war.
The Hotel de la Plage at Le Canadel, 2 minutes from the beach, was owned and run by Mr.Caturegli and his wife and their son and his wife. Catu as he was known had been head chef at a Paris hotel before bringing his family here. Having stayed with the Catus several times I had almost become part of the family and so was not surprised when I went to Toulon for some money to be asked if I could possibly get a spade and bucket for their little grandson. I duly returned with a bright red bucket and yellow spade gratefully received. In thanks Catu decided to cook a bouillabaisse for his three guests, a Dr. Gautier and his wife from Paris and me. This is a speciality along the Mediterranean, based on a mixture of at least four different fish cooked in water or white wine with tomatoes and oil and flavoured with saffron, garlic and parsley. It was a huge and splendid meal.
For 4-6 portions you will need;-
2-3 teaspoons Olive oil or 2-3 oz butter
1 large Onion. 1-2 cloves Garlic, crushed. 2 Tomatoes
11/2 lbs mixed fish- Sole, Red Mullet, Eel, Hake. The more the better.
1 pinch Saffron. 2 level teaspoons Salt. ¾ teaspoon Pepper
1 Bay leaf. 1 small Lobster or cooked Prawns.
¼ Pint White Wine. Garnish- toast, chopped Parsley
Heat the oil or butter in a large pan. Then fry the sliced onion, garlic and sliced tomatoes until just soft.
Put all the ingredients except shellfish and wine into the pan cutting the remaining fish into neat pieces. Pour 11/2 pints boiling water over the fish and boil briskly for 12-15 minutes. Remove Lobster from shell and cut, as other Shellfish into small pieces. Add white wine 5 minutes before end of boiling time. Remove Bay leaf.
Pour onto hot dish and garnish with toast and chopped parsley.