My Mazamet

Life at № 42

She’s Leaving Me!!!

 

She’s decided she’s going to live in America. I won’t lie, I’m a little bit shaken. I thought that considering the virus and the turmoil in the world, she’d be gracing us with her presence for a bit more time. In the past twenty years I’ve only been able to lay my hands on three pieces of this sort of main altar proportions. The first was my Saint Michael, who lived with us in the entrance hall at Villa l’Africaine for years until I finally agreed to sell him to a church. When the Jehovah’s Witness missionaries came to the door he was very good for scaring them away.

The sword could be moved to point upwards

The second was a wonderful Virgen del Consuelo dressed in red who now lives in New Zealand. But this Madonna was by far the best of the three. The proportions are perfection, the face is really lovely, she’s held up beautifully considering her age. And she looked exceptional upstairs on the 17th century chest! It’s sometimes very difficult to work with beautiful things because you don’t want to let them go. But Mike’s rule is one piece in, one piece out, or chaos ensues; and I know he’s right. My hoarder tendencies are undeniable.

I’ve been doing much better than I thought I would after events with my grandfather. I have a new doctor, a young woman, who a month or so ago put me on a new course of medication which has done wonders to keep my mind fairly clear. I’m also relatively calm. The bursts of extreme anxiety still come, but I feel able to sit them out. When I first came out of the pharmacy I thought Cheezuz that’s a lot of pills for a month – but then of course, it’s also a lot of crazy.

And in the food department, I leave you with Michel Roux Jr’s superb chilled tomato soup with mackerel. I simplified the whole thing and used smoked mackerel which was excellent, but here’s the original version:

4 very ripe plum tomatoes
4 very ripe beef tomatoes
Juice 1 orange
8 coriander seeds
1 tbsp tomato purée
1-1½ tbsp sherry vinegar
1 cucumber
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling and brushing
Squeeze lemon juice
3 medium mackerel fillets, pin boned (see tip)
Fresh basil leaves to serve

Using a sharp knife, score a small cross on the base of each tomato. Put in a heatproof bowl and cover with freshly boiled water. Leave for 15 seconds, then drain and refresh in cold water. Peel off the skins (they should come away easily). Cut the tomatoes in half, squeeze out and discard the seeds, then chop roughly.
Put the tomato flesh into a blender or processor with the orange juice, coriander seeds and tomato purée. Season with salt and pepper, whizz until smooth, then press through a sieve using a wooden spoon or ladle.
Add 1 tbsp sherry vinegar, then taste and adjust the seasoning as needed – you may need a splash more sherry vinegar. Chill for at least 3 hours (see make ahead). The air bubbles will leave the soup and the colour will intensify to a deep red.
When the soup has chilled, peel the cucumber, halve lengthways, then remove the seeds with a teaspoon. Cut the cucumber halves into 4cm lengths, then into batons. Season with salt, pepper, extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice, then toss to combine.
Heat the grill to high. Run your fingers over the cut-side of the mackerel fillets to locate any pin bones, remove using fish tweezers (see tip), then wash and pat dry. Cut each fillet diagonally to give 2 roughly diamond-shaped pieces, brush with a little oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill, skin-side up, for 2 minutes, then cook for 1 minute on the other side.
Divide the cucumber evenly among 6 soup plates, piling it up in the centre. Top each pile with a piece of hot mackerel, pour the cold tomato soup around, then garnish with fresh basil leaves and a drop or two of olive oil.

31 comments on “She’s Leaving Me!!!

  1. Steve Ruis
    August 28, 2020

    Ah, she’s leaving you. Wee noticed that over the length of your relationship that she had grown rather stiff. You could have read the signs but you were blinded by love.

    If a drug cocktail makes your life better, I’d try it. But, being who I am and not wanting to depend on drugs. I would test all of them (go off of them and see if there is a difference). I have done this my whole life.

    I love the recipe and can’t wait to try it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 28, 2020

      Yes, I should have noticed that when I walked into a room she didn’t even turn to look at me 😀
      I’ve had phases on and off medication, and it’s early days but this combination has really lifted the cloud.
      I can’t recommend the recipe enough. It also works beautifully with smoked herring.

      Like

  2. makagutu
    August 28, 2020

    She is beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 28, 2020

      Yes, she’s one of those once in a lifetime pieces. There are bigger, older, more expensive, but rarely do all the good characteristics come together in a single piece like this.

      Like

  3. clubschadenfreude
    August 28, 2020

    that recipe sounds divine. You seem to have as many drugs as my husband does for his bipolar. 🙂 the cocktail he has works very well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 28, 2020

      It’s super versatile. I’ve now experimented with various chilled soups with seared fish and they all work very well. Tomato is my favourite, but a close runner up is cucumber, pea and lettuce soup, with smoked herring, because the saltiness of it really works with the greens 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • midihideaways
        August 31, 2020

        Wow, cucumber, pea and lettuce soup with smoked herring – that sounds fab. Have you posted the recipe on the blog already? I’ve found a cold cucumber soup in the original Ballymaloe House cookbook, which is super easy and quick to make. The tomato soup sounds great too and I still have tomatoes in the garden, so will give it a try! Thank you, and bon voyage to the lady!

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        August 31, 2020

        The soup part was Delia: https://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/international/european/british/a-summer-soup-of-lettuce-cucumber-and-peas , then I added the seared smoked herring to it to give it more substance 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • midihideaways
        September 18, 2020

        I just discovered your reply – thank you!! I got some smoked herrings in the supermarket the other day, one packet has been turned into herring salad for dinner tonight, the other is going to be perfect for the soup!! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Robert A. Vella
    August 28, 2020

    Time heals all wounds. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Isabel
    August 28, 2020

    Hello. I am a student of art history from Spain. Please forgive my english. I saw your pictures of this virgin in June. She looks very like the Virgen del Socorro from Córdoba Virgin of Help. The same body and face structure. The hands too are very like. I think probably they are by the same artist. Nobody knows the name of the artist but the date is around 1650. The painting yes is 18 century like you say but I think the sculpture is older. Maybe you like this article about virgins to dress https://www.lahornacina.com/articulospatrimonio5.htm

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 28, 2020

      Hi,
      I’ve had a look at some pictures online and I see what you mean. The bone structure is extremely similar it does look like the work of the same person. The chin and the submental area are incredibly similar. Do you know where I could find pictures of the Cordoba Madonna undressed? You could be right and she could be 17th century, but without more evidence a conservative estimate is the safest way to go 🙂

      Like

  6. Kris
    August 28, 2020

    I think Mike is wise and you should obey all of his rules. All beautiful women eventually leave, no?

    I will get creative to veganise the soup 😁

    Liked by 3 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 29, 2020

      I can’t remember if you eat cheese? If you do, a breaded and fried goat’s cheese would probably be a good substitute for the fish. Or fried smoked tofu strips 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kris
        August 29, 2020

        Smoked tofu is a good suggestion. Now is the best time of year for anything tomato based. The taste of summer!

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        August 29, 2020

        I’ve been using smoked tofu cut in little strips as a substitute for bacon bits (fried in olive oil and then sprinkled with paprika and cumin) and it works beautifully

        Liked by 2 people

      • Kris
        August 29, 2020

        Good tip! I like tempeh as a bacon substitute for its texture.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. acflory
    August 29, 2020

    Au revoir, pretty lady. You said one in, one out, Pinky. -waves to Mike- If the Madonna is leaving who or what is taking her place?

    Btw the soup sounds delicious, but does it have to be mackerel? I don’t think I’ve seen fresh mackerel here but we do get lovely salmon, both fresh and smoked.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 29, 2020

      The soup works well with stronger fish flavours, maybe sardines? Definitely herring.

      I don’t keep anything in storage anymore. My way of working since we arrived in France is I only buy things I really love, have them cleaned/restored etc. and then blend them into our collection until they’re sold or go off to auction in Paris or London. Anyway, last month someone sent me pictures of a much smaller piece than this, an Our Lady of the Assumption or perhaps an Immaculate Conception. I’d call it the sculptural version of Murillo’s Assumption, with the arms that go up which is very unusual on pieces that are made to be dressed 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • acflory
        August 29, 2020

        Thanks, Pinky. Might give the sardines a try.

        So…you have your sights set on a new lady already? lol I understand what you’re saying, but the hoarder in me is crying. I mean, what if you totally fall in love with a piece and can’t bear to part with it?

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        August 29, 2020

        Then I hide it and months later sneak it into a corner of a room 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • acflory
        August 29, 2020

        -giggles- I see. Mum’s the word!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Helen Devries
    August 30, 2020

    Any follow up on the Cordoba lady?
    I shall try that soup once we get some hot weather again…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Helen Devries
    August 30, 2020

    35 degrees C. At the moment a tropical wave is giving us much more rain than is usual at this time of year and the temperatures here, up in the hills, are in the mid 20s. At present we are in the clouds…very reminiscent of the Ceylon tea plantations my husband visited years ago when working.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Judi Castille
    September 11, 2020

    Sounds delicious. But I am allergic to mackerel. Maybe a substitute? Pills. Yes they do work if you get the right combination. My asthma took a while to find the right meds and how delivered..powder not aerosol. And some better as nasal spray and not pills. Anxiety…not solved that very well. I have days. I go and garden.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on August 28, 2020 by in food, life and tagged , , .
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