The Italians get it. Jamie Oliver gets it. Babies get it… Nakedness. Before you judge me as a raunchy writer, allow me to sprinkle some synonyms on your read before you rate this “X” and never read my blog again.
There were generations and societies that went before us that lived simply. I’m not sure what happened, how it happened or when it happened but the world I currently live in is often very crowded, complicated and complex. We often cannot see what is important because “stuff” has congested our view. There are moments however that remind us of what we truly do need and often this is not much – like when the power goes out (we realise we won’t die without TV), or the car breaks down (we realise can walk), or the internet connection fails (we realise we have books, or people or the outdoors!).
Last week Matthew, the baby and I were holidaying on an island. We didn’t take much for our stay because we didn’t expect that we’d need much. Strangely, we found out that that when we came to pack up after our week’s stay, we had barely even used half of what we had originally packed… We could have simplified our stay even more!
We took most of our food over to the island to avoid exorbitant costs but made a point of indulging in some fresh seafood over the week. We had read reviews about a shack that just sold prawns and every day we drove past it to see if it was open but the weather was unkind to us and we found a wee sign on the last day of our stay that said the prawn trawlers really couldn’t operate in the week-long tempest. That was ok because we found another place that stocked some fresh, local seafood. Matthew sent me in to purchase it as he knew our flavour pantry was limited back at our beach shack. Two things that caught my eye were freshly shucked oysters and squid tubes. There was some delightful salmon but I’d just coated that fish in dukka a week before and had told of that adventure.
I asked the lady in the store how to cook the squid tubes as I’d never taken to the task before. She told me to slice it thinly and cook it for no more than about two minutes. I asked her what flavours I could use. She suggested sweet chilli sauce but I knew better. I knew that this little tube of squid deserved to let his naked flavours shine – his flesh needed to be exposed (in my mouth…)!
We passed the convenience store on the way back to our beach shack and I bought a knob of ginger, some garlic, a red chilli, and a bottle of cheap, white vinegar. That’s the recipe! Oh, we had some lemon and lime at home, along with some castor sugar so they were added to the mix. I let the squid rings marinate for a bit but didn’t add the vinegar, lemon and lime juice until just before they were placed delicately (not thrown!) on the BBQ as acidity tends to cook seafood. The flavours gave the squid some zing but that fresh squiddy flavour was by far the darling of the dish. Chef Matthew also cooked them to perfection – not chewy at all.
We ate the oysters au natural` and served the squid rings with some iceberg lettuce cups containing finely sliced snow peas, carrots and red onion. I used the same marinating ingredients to make a salad dressing. This just added the perfect crunch to the delicate, soft texture of the seafood. The chilli also added a nice sing.
The thing I loved most about the dish was its simplicity or nakedness. Often we over-complicate our food, our lives and our relationships and smother them in things that often don’t taste good at all. Some people obsess over their looks, their make up and their attire so much so that you can’t actually see the person. Others crowd their lives with attitudes (generally negative) that consume and overtake the heart of a person. Some people stress over work or this or that to a point where their “naked” passions and drive are no longer evident. This saddens me because people “taste” best when they are just themselves – no facades, no falsities, no fronts.
Good food tastes best naked. So too does life.
Matthew’s Eight Finger Tarantula Rating (which will be explained in a later blog): 8 out of 8 – Perfect as is – I wouldn’t change a thing!