When the boat comes in

Thou shalt have a fish and thou shalt have a fin
Thou shalt have a codlin when the boat comes in
Thou shalt have haddock baked in a pan

Well, that (mothball) lasted a long time didn’t it?

Without further ado, I shall blame EllaDee for making me write a post on here. And even my partner, who thinks I spend far too much time writing drivel on blogs, said he thought I couldn’t last for long without it.

EllaDee wrote an entertaining piece about fish.

Now as everyone knows, unless you have selectively chosen to ignore my posts, I am vegetarian.

That means, for all those of you who really don’t understand the term, I don’t eat meat, birds, fish, cheese made with animal rennet (or any cheese if I can help it), or any eggs that aren’t free range, ie the eggs from my chickens are ok.

Please don’t make a crass comment about ‘My friend’s vegetarian and s/he eats fish/shellfish.’ If they say that, then quite frankly, they are wrong.

We had a similar discussion with a Spanish neighbour. She wanted to invite us to a barbecue, knew we were vegetarian but said that was fine and she would do some shellfish for us, mussels or clams or something. ‘That’s ok isn’t it?’ asked Selina.


‘But the Queen (of Spain, Sofia), is vegetarian and she eats them.’

I really don’t care whether she is the queen of Spain, Sheba, or anywhere else. She is not vegetarian.

Similarly I read a link to a good cookery blog today, where the author listed a fish recipe under a vegetarian category. Aaaaaaagh!! Please people, if you don’t know anything about vegetarianism, aren’t interested, even worse, think you do know and then get it totally wrong, just, STFU. That’s why I do occasionally try and explain the concept because lots of people are quite clearly ignorant about the topic – as I once was too.

Having got that one out of the way, onto the fish.

My partner fished in canals in Wales apparently, and sea fished in Australia. Seems he had two supports on the front of his Toyota Land Cruiser so he didn’t even have to hold the rods.

There endeth the fishing story and moving onto the cooking.

Where I lived the main fish was haddock. We were bang in the middle of the country about 70 miles each way to the sea. But at the time, we lived in an industrial area, and fresh fish was regularly shipped to our local fish markets as people had enough money to pay for decent fish.

We had a fish and chip shop right next to our house, well, at the top of our drive to be pedantic. A couple of hundred yards down the street, there was another one. Fish and chips were big business in our area. Haddock was the norm, if you wanted that tasteless insipid fish called cod, you had to ask for it.

Before my time, my grandparents ran a fish and chip shop in a local bus station. It goes without saying that my mother could cook fish and chips to perfection.

So much so, that on Saturday nights after finishing work, she would be chained to the cooker, battering, frying and dishing up for my dad and I while she toiled away at the chip pan fryer.

Finally, when we had totally eaten half the North Sea supply of haddock between us, she would sit down and eat the last one or two remaining pieces of fish.

Despite my heritage, along with Yorkshire pudding, I’ve never cooked battered fish. Or plaice in breadcrumbs, which was another favourite. My father and I would fight over the pieces with the roe. Apparently lots of people didn’t want that – cost the same money as the fish by weight, but we loved the crispy crunchy texture and fishy flavour.

My favourite fish though, were halibut and salmon, cooked plainly, usually gently grilled with lemon juice and butter. Rainbow trout came quickly behind in the top rankings for delicious fish.

While my father claimed not to like fish that much (not that he ever left any), my mother and I both loved it. Her favourite was Dover sole, and again, we would just have it cooked plainly with, maybe, parsley butter.

When she started doing her fancy cooking with the 4/6 weekly Cordon Bleu Cookery Club magazines, we ventured into new waters.

Sole Georgette, which as I vaguely remember was fillets of sole, poached, and then completed with a prawn bechamel sauce, was stuffed in a jacket potato. This, I might add, was a fish course. It went down exceedingly well with my father’s masonic dinner party friends.

More simply – and cheaply – if we weren’t eating fish and chips on a Saturday evening we would have haddock with prawn and mushroom sauce. Add fillets of haddock to buttered oven dish, sprinkle with lemon juice and ground black pepper, scatter prawns and mushrooms on top, and add white/cheese sauce, and top with cheese. Serve with mashed potatoes. Probably similar to what seems to be called ocean pie these days.

And then there were the smoked fishes. Smoked salmon (of which we ate lots), smoked mackerel, smoked trout, and kippers (didn’t have too many of those).

Over at EllaDee’s, I noticed one of the commenters mentioned frozen fish. It never happened in our house. I suppose it was around, but we always bought fresh. Not only did we have a superb fish and game merchant in town, the market also had about ten fish stalls.

We did resort to tinned salmon however. Usually when my paternal grandmother came around for tea, John West of course, and only ever the red salmon and not the inferior pink variety. [Tuna was not a word used in my home.] The red salmon was invariably added to brown bread sandwiches, with peeled cucumber, and the crusts cut off the bread. I quite liked those I have to say. Always a good reason for Nana to come round really, just to get yummy sandwiches.

I did eat tuna in the end, once I met my partner. In fact, we managed to buy fresh tuna and shark steak too from Waitrose when we lived in the London commuter belt.

When you decide to become vegetarian, there are the inevitable conversations about which food do you miss? It’s not that you want to eat it, but you sort of aimlessly consider which was your favourite food in a past life. Mine was the fish, halibut and salmon to be precise.

In fact, the last time I ‘transgressed’ as a vegetarian was when I ate fish in Corfu. We’d gone for an excellent walk along the beach, and got totally lost at lunchtime. We were struggling to find our way out of a town and eventually found a road out, although, who knew in which direction.

Happily wandering down the road, we were offered a lift by a Greek guy. We were puzzled when he spoke to us in German and we explained we were English. The relief shone on his face. He didn’t really want to give a lift to Germans, but he had done anyway because he was a nice person. On turning out to be English, we promptly got taken back to the family Sunday lunch. There were millions of them there.

Most of them had eaten, but we were given feta cheese, black olives, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, the usual Greek salad. Phew, that was good, we didn’t have to say ‘we are vegetarian’ in Greek, one of my few pat phrases.

Next, the fish and the lamb turned up. Oh shit! He ate the lamb, I ate the fish. It was too late to say ‘eimai hortofagos’.

And did I enjoy the fish, dear reader? No.

For those of you who didn’t read my earlier post about not eating fish, here it is.

About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
This entry was posted in animal rights, blogging, musings, vegetarian, vegetarianism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to When the boat comes in

  1. Vicky says:

    It has always puzzled me the other great North (haddock) South (cod) divide regarding fish.
    My parents had a fish and chip shop in Harrogate, my dad wouldn’t even consider cod, not that there were ever any requests for it.
    Childhood memories are of sardine and cucumber sandwiches on Hornsea beach πŸ™‚
    Salmon sandwiches were a luxury, red salmon even more so.
    Nowadays, fish still rates high with me, but like you used to be, I much prefer it with a nice sauce or lemon.


    • Yes the fish divide is fascinating. My parents could seriously not understand the cod wars, as in ‘who wants to eat that anyway?’

      Fish and chip shop? yet another parallel life.

      I forgot sardines (tinned) probably because I never ate them although I think my dad ate them on toast (yuk).

      Yes, I know the salmon thing was sheer snobbery, that’s why I mentioned it. We had tins of the red salmon piled up in the pantry!

      I struggled to eat the fish in Corfu, seriously. There comes a point at which you don’t go back. But fish, as with any other food, is best fresh (IMO), cooked as simply as possible, and as you say with lemon or a sauce. That’s pretty much how I cook anyway πŸ˜€


  2. Totty says:

    Where’s the Airwick? Oh, never mind…I’m glad you are back.

    My mother had a penchant for stockpiling John West salmon; it was her stand-by for unexpected Sunday afternoon guests. “I don’t like tuna.” she would state emphatically. Eventually I asked her when she had tried it and what she didn’t like about it. “Oh I’ve never tried it, there would be no point, because I know I don’t like it.”


    • I don’t think Airwick suits Cloudy Roughseas sense of ethics:

      Air Wick was first introduced in 1943 in the United States.The Air Wick company was for a brief period owned by the Swiss pharmaceutical company Ciba Ceigy (now Novartis), before being acquired by the British household products company Reckitt Coleman (now Reckitt Benkiser).In October 2007 Reckitt Benckiser won a High Court ruling in a lawsuit with Procter & Gamble over claims that the design of Air Wick Odour Stop was an exact copy of P&G’s Febreze air spray.

      I’m not really back, just couldn’t justify writing 1300 words as a reply on someone else’s blog πŸ˜€

      I think our mothers came out of the same shop. I don’t think mine had ever eaten tuna either. I mean, it was ok when I tried it. Truth is, I had eaten too much John West red salmon by then, so tuna’s only advantage was its cost. And preferably ethically caught and all that.

      My parents watched a TV programme about racism at one point. ‘I don’t know any black people, and I don’t want to know any,’ said a little girl. On a revisit some years later, she seemed quite troubled and less assertive.

      Or the local ‘variety club’. (Wakefield Theatre Club). An ex-miner friend: ‘I didn’t want to go before I went, and afterwards, I definitely didn’t want to go again.’

      But sometimes, to be fair, you can be right about not liking something without trying it. I doubt very much my mother would have liked tuna – she didn’t even really like tinned salmon, probably associated with the MIL. And I’m sure I’m the same. Good tale about your mother though.


      • Totty says:

        Well, as it happens, she had tried tuna on a number of occasions; I just told her I was too poor to buy JW and had to buy inferior brands of salmon to put on my butties…


        • LOL! My mother really never had tried tuna. I started buying it for sandwiches and salads though. In Spain, of course, we have spent years asking for an ensalada mixta – SIN ÁTUN!


          • Totty says:

            Blasphemy! I heard someone the other day asking for a white cafe con leche with milk; now that’s how to make a waiter stop and think…


          • I do try and get them to add extra olives or maybe maiz or zanahoria or remolache. Does that make it less blasphemous? Just told the cafe con leche one to partner who nearly splurted his black cafe solo without milk all over himself. In fact I asked for a couple of take-away cafe solos the other day and was asked if I wanted them with milk πŸ˜€


  3. I always understood that someone who didn’t eat meat, but did eat fish was a pescatarian which means they wouldn’t have to explain themselves as a vegetarian who eats fish.


    • Absolutely. The trouble is that most people who are omniverous are unaware of the distinctions and class anyone who doesn’t eat meat/fowl/fish as whacky.

      As I said above, it’s why I keep repeating the broken record. I have written about pescatarians before, guess I need to redo that one as well, thanks for the reminder.


      • No worries, I just wanted to weigh in with my thoughts πŸ™‚ I don’t understand, as an omnivorous person, why you’d think people are whacky just because they’re different.

        I’d go vegetarian happily, but my other half hates the idea and needs a high protein diet otherwise he gets health problems, so we compromise on a few vegetarian meals a week.


        • Seriously, you would think being vegetarian is hardly surprising in the 21st century. Yet a couple of years ago, my partner went to a christmas lunch, with a guaranteed vegetarian meal which turned out to be chips, roast potatoes and mashed potatoes. He likes potatoes, but even he flipped at that. Meanwhile his work colleagues chucked sausages in his coat pocket because it was so funny, yes?

          Protein is never the issue in a veg diet. Pulses, nuts, tofu, seitan, tempeh are all good sources. Then you get the protein element in fresh veg eg peas and beans. If your partner doesn’t want to eat that, it’s a separate issue, but there is no way a veg diet lacks protein. There are some recipes over on my roughseas blog if you want to look, and there are some superb vegan blogs kicking around with brilliant food posts.

          A couple of other protein-based posts I wrote about:





  4. pinkagendist says:

    How about bacon? Do you eat bacon? It’s more of a condiment than a meat πŸ˜€


  5. free penny press says:

    I never understood what the big debate is regarding what people are (carnivorous, vegans, pretend vegans). My theory is as long as I eat healthy ( no meat, yes to cheeses, shellfish yes and lots of fish) that is really all I care about. No side is better than the other, it’s just those of us that choose to eat healthier are not all polluted with toxins and crap..


    • I think there are a couple of debates. One, like you, I really don’t want to eat Agent Orange. For want of a better description to cover all pesticides etc.

      But two, there is a huge ethical issue about eating meat, whether it is related to animal abuse, or environmental destruction.

      Three, cheese is covered under animal abuse aka the dairy industry, and particularly if it involves animal rennet.

      Four, so much fish and shellfish is in polluted waters. And, I really feel that fish are discriminated against!

      Five, these days, I don’t put what I want to eat above the rest of the eco-system. I don’t think any side is better than another either. I do think there are choices to be made though and depleting the earth of animals and marine life isn’t the best way to go about it.


  6. bluonthemove says:

    I’ve never understood why vegetarians eat eggs. I realise chickens aren’t killed to produce free range eggs, but eggs are just chicken’s dead babies, they are meat. I used to argue with my brother that he wasn’t a true vegetarian, as he eats eggs.

    Not being religious I see nothing magical about (in this case) non fertilisation, and anyway tomatoes are fertilised and that didn’t seem to stop him eating them. After he became a vegetarian I stopped going to see my brother, because the food he cooked used to make me ill, and being 200 miles away one could hardly just pop round for a couple of hours.


  7. Welcome back! Good post – I always considered it a contradiction for vegetarians to eat fish! I eat fish because I am not a vegetarian.


  8. I’m also amazed when people wonder if I eat fish or poultry. A lot of the time I have to say I don’t eat animals so they’ll understand, but there’s always someone who just wants to argue because they think my choice insults them simply by being my choice.

    And I agree with you about unfertilized eggs. When a women sheds an unused egg each month, no one says that’s a dead baby — because it isn’t.


    • I’ve realised after some 25 or so years of not eating meat that people are just as ignorant today about a vegetarian or vegan diet as they were when I first started. As I was too, which I will always admit.

      So that’s why, from time to time, I write these really exciting posts about vegetarians don’t eat fish, in the hopes that one stupid person will finally get the message!

      I’ve often said I don’t eat dead animals, I guess initially it was to be provocative, these days it’s an easy way to describe what I don’t eat. Or I could say I just eat vegetables – because even the veg products like tofu, seitan, tempeh, are plant-based. But at the end of the day, what’s important to me, and especially anyone catering for me, is what I don’t eat. I can’t imagine going anywhere someone is dishing up fish for example.

      Someone asked me if I ate cheese and eggs. I said not really, but I’ll suffer free range eggs and vegetarian cheese. I could see the shutters closing even as I mentioned it. She hadn’t a clue. Very few people who aren’t vegetarian can get away from the cheese syndrome. It turns up on everything.

      The eggs are only going to be fertilised if there is a gallo around cockerel/rooster) anyway. And depending on his age, they may well not be. Irrelevant to me. In my simplistic head eggs are eggs and chickens are chickens, ie when they hatch out.


  9. EllaDee says:

    This is why it’s worth you coming back… your posts instigate so many varied ideas and opinions. Pinkagendist obviously testing the waters of your humour πŸ˜‰ Sadly, I think vegetarianism has become too fashionable, like white plates & black BMWs 😦 and suffered an integrity crisis… And, it’s not alone, I met a Breathtarian who professed the benefits and necessity of exclusively Prana but later admitted to indulgences in chocolate and chips (crisps). I truly believe if you are vegetarian as you are, or vegan and you are informed and dedicated you can wear the label if you choose. As I’ve mentioned, my sister was vegetarian, then vegan and she would not eat or use any products that transgressed… she now eats animal products on occasion so does not label herself thus any longer. I’m sad that ill-informed wannabee vego’s have given the ethic a careless, bad rap… And, I’m wordless about the egg debate…Truly?


    • Ha! A matter of opinion about my worth I suspect. And anyway, it was only because I figured the above post was a little too long for a comment on yours πŸ˜€

      Pink is very childish, and so am I. That reminds me, I must write about bacon to get my revenge. Just because I’m veg now doesn’t mean I don’t have a view about meat etc issues. The fish was a classic example and particularly the digression into rainbow trout. Have to say I would not be trying my fish with ginger or sugar though!

      I don’t know that it’s very fashionable, or at least not where I live. It may be in Sydney. Normally I don’t wear the label on the outside, it’s not relevant fortunately. On here yes, because I think it is worth writing about (qv comment above).

      My gripe is, as I mentioned on yours, and in the above post, with the people who are ‘influential’ eg the cookery blog you read, and wrongly label food as vegetarian when it isn’t. I find – stereotypical sexist comment about to come here – amateur male cooks are often unbearably pompous and pretentious. I’ve chanced on a few blogs now and they are all in the same vein. They are such bloody know-it-alls. They also seem to attract a huge following which is a good thing as I’m not inclined to wade through 70 or 100 comments to leave my scathing point of view.

      As for eggs, my main concern is animal welfare. So I can’t remember the last time I bought a battery egg, if I ever have done in fact. At our first UK house there was a chicken place up the road, well up a country path actually. They had boxes of half dozen eggs and an honesty box and all the chickens were happily running around outside. Bet that honesty box isn’t there these days.


  10. We struggled in Spain, patiently tried to explain we were vegetarian and were provided with either sardine salad or chicken salad. Sad that people no longer seem to see chicken as meat!


    • Yes, Spanish definitely fall in to the category of understanding vegetarians to be people who don’t eat meat so everything else is fair game ( πŸ˜€ ). We got into the habit of just adding a long list at the end of our orders that went, no meat, no chicken, no ham (jamon serrano), no fish, no shellfish. We had it pretty well covered.

      The French are no different. We stipulated veg food years ago, and got a bowl of peas with tiny bits of ham. On looking surprised when we said we weren’t going to eat it, they told us to pick out the ham. When we refused, they said they would. Aaaaaaaagh!!


  11. Strange, is it to do with the separation of people from the land?

    My colleagues don’t really get it either, ‘we’re having kebab, do you want one?’


    • I don’t think it’s anything as thoughtful or philosophical as that πŸ˜€

      I think it’s more on the lines of ‘We eat meat, you don’t. We’re not interested in learning and you are stupid/cranky/eccentric/a rabid left-winger.’ Insert appropriate word of choice. (I would say at least three out of four apply to me πŸ˜‰ )


  12. Pingback: THE SALMON STORY…. « Fairy Godsister's Blog

  13. I endorse the drivelling whole heartedly, my blog consists entirely of it. I just can’t give up the fish…..yet but you’ll be glad to know that I don’t call myself a vegetarian (though all the meat eaters in my family insist on doing so). I’ve struggled a bit this year but at least I’m not doing any long distance running so I’m just about managing to get the balance of energy I need from some new food groups right for now before I start increasing my cardio again. My main drivers for giving up meat was some horrific footage of live exports being slaughtered inhumanly overseas, a natural inclination to eat fish rather than meat and the information that pigs are as intelligent as my dog. The latest horsemeat in beef product scandal that’s happening right now has just reinforced my view that you just don’t know what you’re eating and where it’s coming from nowadays. I can’t convert the rest of my family but I can honestly say that apart from the friends bbq recently when all there was for me was a salad sandwich, I’ve not had any real problems eating out or cooking myself and alternative at family meal times.


  14. Indeed, but there is readable drivel and just drivel that should be in the rubbish bin.

    I laughed at your family calling you vegetarian because you don’t eat meat. It is a very common misconception, and most frustrating. As I’ve confessed, I too called myself vegetarian when I ate fish, so I understand the confusion. Which is why I also write posts trying to put that right.

    I’m not up on the athletic requirements for food etc so I’ll say nowt there. There are plenty of vegan athletes out there somewhere. I can’t bear running. To me, it is to be used exceptionally when a bus is approaching and I am not at the bus stop. Sadly the lumps of lead that pass for legs don’t even seem to manage that these days. Walking and cycling are more me.

    There are some piggy pix on the one called Happy Pig (surprisingly) on Roughseas. I think it is just before the East Coast art post.

    Must be a nightmare cooking differently at home. Or maybe not as my partner cooked for himself at my mums when he was doing a redec there. The worst events are private functions. Terrible provision for vegetarians, let alone vegans. So needless to state I wrote a post about it on here …. advising people what they could think of providing for non-meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans, whatever. And my big gripe on that post was that the bloody (or rather, not so bloody) veg options always get snaffled by the meat eaters. C’est la vie.


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