How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lammas, Not Llamas

For the holiday we celebrate with this meal, we double the "M" not the "L" -- that would be a meal we had two months ago in the Andes.

Image: Earth DNA
Lammas is one of the cross-quarter dates, August 1 being halfway between the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox. We are celebrating a day early because, frankly, we are heading to our favorite vineyard for music on the actual date. Our celebration coincides, as many are aware, with the shared birthday of J.K. Rowling and her famous protagonist.

Traditionally, its celebration involves a lot of grains, as observers contemplate the work they have done in the summer and the harvest yet to come. For our celebration, we turned to the pages of -- faithful readers have already guessed it -- The Wicca Cookbook, choosing a recipe that looked appealing, and pairing it with something we could make with food on-hand from our CSA.

What appealed to us was Grilled Trout, on page 124, which the authors suggest we associate with the sacredness of water. The recipe is somewhat vague as to how the fish should be used, though in retrospect it seems a whole, cleaned fish for each diner was intended. After going to the sea this morning, I worked in one of my favorite cafes until my favorite fishmonger was open, knowing that I could get trout or something like it, along with some advice.

I settled on a one-pound fillet of striped bass, and modified the recipe accordingly. I started by whisking together a half cup each of corn meal and wheat flour; the recipe calls only for flour, but elsewhere the book extolls the connection between corn and lammas, so we decided to use both. I added a tiny bit of salt (we usually do not use any, but we have learned that if a recipe calls for salt, we should use at least a pinch), pepper, marjoram, and finely-minced parsley. I divided the bass steak (it was not really even, so I later gave Pam some of my over-sized "half"), brushed it thoroughly with melted butter, and dredged it in the flour mixture. I then placed it on a cookie sheet and broiled it in the oven (mid-level rack, not top) for six minutes.

We drizzled this with fresh lemon and enjoyed it alongside Pam's famous Not-Your-Mother's Green Beans and a glass of our recently vinted Cloverfield Gew├╝rztraminer 2014. We followed this with Pam's rendition of a favorite from the Hogwart's Express.

So for this recipe we wanted trout but used bass; at the end of 2012 we wanted bass to christen our Maryland cook book but used haddock. On Maryland Day the following year, we prepared a shrimp dish that reminded us of Dan Akroyd's approach to fish preparation 
(The link above has the full transcript; only a portion of the skit is available as video).

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