Time spent pursuing hope

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. — J. R. R. Tolkien

For this guy, who fishes most days off our local wharf, the decision seems to have been made.

I love fish, and quite like the idea of catching it, but I can see that for a lot of people, fishing is so much more than procuring dinner.

The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope. — John Buchan

Shared to Debbie’s weekly quotation-inspired challenge at Travel with Intent

Travel theme: fragrant

Who could resist the fragrance of chocolate chip cookies? Photo: Su Leslie 2013

Who could resist the fragrance of chocolate chip cookies? Photo: Su Leslie 2013

Really, what says “home” like the fragrance of baking?

When the boy-child was little, baking was a big part of what we did together. Mainly we made Anzac or hokey pokey biscuits and I still associate the slightly caramel-y smell of melting butter and golden syrup with our afternoons together.

These days I don’t bake much, so the occasional banana loaf or ginger slice that is produced gets eaten with gratitude and much gusto.

Of course the surest path to sensory overload is to visit a food market. Borough Market in London almost overwhelmed me when I was there recently.

Perhaps it's cheating being able to see the sign, but I feel I can smell the lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and fresh coriander of this fragrant Thai dish. Photo: Su Leslie 2013

Perhaps it’s cheating being able to see the sign, but I feel I can smell the lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and fresh coriander of this fragrant Thai dish. Photo: Su Leslie 2013

P.J. O’ Rourke said that “fish is the only food that is considered spoiled once it smells like what it is”, and so it’s probably not a typical choice for a post about fragrance.

Snapper from the Hauraki Gulf. Photo: Su Leslie 2013

Snapper from the Hauraki Gulf. Photo: Su Leslie 2013

But last weekend the Big T went out fishing with some friends and came home with a chiller full of snapper. They were so fresh, the first way we thought of to eat them was as sashimi. It took us most of the day to convert those beautiful fish into food; making stock, ceviche, smoking fillets and finally preparing the sashimi.

Fish Stock 101. Photo: Su Leslie 2013

Fish Stock 101. Photo: Su Leslie 2013

We felt that by trying to use as much of the fish as possible (our cats had the flesh left on bones after the stock-making process), and by not shying away from the processes of turning animals into food, we were at least being honest with ourselves about where our food comes from.

And how does this relate to fragrance? Well the fish themselves did actually have a slight scent of the ocean, and the stock we made was fragrant, but the real fragrance of the day was the combination of manuka smoke, salt, sugar and fish that resulted in the best smoked fish I’ve ever tasted.

Getting ready for smoking. Photo: Su Leslie 2013

Getting ready for smoking. Photo: Su Leslie 2013

smoked fish

Fragrant, succulent smoked snapper. Photo: Su Leslie 2013

This post was written as part of Ailsa’s weekly Travel Theme at Where’s my backpack?