The Mediterranean diet, and by association, the Aegean diet, is envied the world over. Lots of fresh vegetables, fruit, olive oil and fish. That's how the world sees it and I have no argument with the availability of the first three, but fish is not the mainstay of the diet that it once was. Eat fish in a restaurant in Bodrum and your bill will show that it is now on the "luxury list". Most of us have to make do with farmed fish in the summer as wild-caught is beyond our purses. When I first started cooking in Hydra, I had difficulty buying fish; the fishmonger seemed reluctant to sell me any. It was a few weeks before I was given unrestricted access to the contents of his fridge. So it was with great dismay that when I turned up in Hydra earlier this year, I found the fish shop closed and it has remained so. I tried to buy from the fishermen on the quay, but not recognising any of the bug eyed, strangely coloured seafood on show, I threw away more than I could serve; the resulting dishes tasting more muddy than fishy. So my quest for fish began. Soon, the bait was taken. The housekeeper returned from her shopping trip on the mainland with a bag of red mullet. A shopkeeper produced a spear-caught sea bream of magnificent proportions and then, the best surprise of all, our electrical engineer came to sort out our lights and returned with a relative of a grouper as a gift.
|Christos is as good at fishing as he is at keeping the island's lights on.|
Maybe this is how everyone finds fish here. It would explain why the fishmonger closed down.