I live in Nice in the South of Result. As a result, I get the opportunity to sample some truly fantastic food. The blend of French cuisine and Italian dishes is truly wonderful and leaves me spoiled for choice. Even though Nice may be famed for dishes such as Socca and Salade Nicoise, it is also renowned for its sea-food. Dishes such as boulabaise are commonplace as are restaurants offering moules or seafood paealla – one of the finest meals I have ever eaten was moules a volonte (all you can eat) in the Cours Saleya area of the city.
When I took a trip back to the north of England, I was excited because seafood would again be on the menu, but on the shores of the North Sea it would prove to be very different. There would be far less paella, not so much tuna and significantly less salmon. Instead it would be things like cod, herring and all manner of shellfish. The mussels would remain, but they would be served in a very different way.
One of the things I love about visiting towns like Scarborough and Whitby is the food on display in the widows of the local fishmongers. In Nice, we often see all kinds of Mediterranean fish displayed on ice outside restaurants. In Yorkshire, though, the displays were far less bright and aesthetic. There were rows of different shellfish, slabs and slabs of cod and herrings smoked into kippers. In one of these, this display was given a little extra life by the addition of two sets of shark’s teeth.
On our trip, we spent much of the morning eyeing the sea-food greedily. However, it wasn’t until lunchtime that we actually managed to partake when we stopped of for fish and chips. My father and my girlfriend had freshly caught battered cod. My father was certain that the fish he was eating had probably still been swimming that very morning because it tasted so fresh. My girlfriend was also impressed at the crisp taste of the colder water fish. Sadly, I missed out as I only eat shellfish and not fish.
My time came later in the day when we drove down to Scarborough and I enjoyed some shellfish on the promenade. The small fishing cum tourist town has scores of small concession stands on the side of the harbor selling everything from candy floss to burgers. However, I made a bee-line for the shellfish stand and decided to chow down on some of my favourites. I started with some small prawns. These were served icy cold and swimming in vinegar. They were divine. I followed these with mussels. However, unlike in France, they came without their shells and with no sauce. I simply had the creatures themselves doused in salt and vinegar. Again, they were wonderful. I followed these with some whelks, a type of English shellfish that is hideously ugly and unbelievably chewy, but which somehow seem to define a trip to the seaside … for me at least.