I’ve been missing the food from home a bit lately. This week I wanted to make a seafood soup, with a variety of shell fish and prawns and was so disappointed that I had to use a pre-cooked selection. I managed to find green prawns in the shell, which is essential for a good stock, but the crab and mussels came from a pre-cooked frozen package and I can confirm that yes – they tasted horrible. In Sydney I would have gone to my local fish shop and bought my pick of prawns, crab, mussels and fish and it would have been a feast worthy of the time it took to make. My mum is visiting Sydney at the moment and I get so envious of the food stories….dumplings in Chatswood, Thai in Glebe, Indian in Concord, sushi, banh mi and the all important coffee that is excellent pretty much everywhere.
However, while munching down on a Vietnamese roll in the ghettos of Eastwood, I can’t drive up to visit the rugged heather meadows of Scotland, or jump on a train to eat a baguette in Paris, or go for a short drive to marvel at 1200 yr old Yew tree where Henry VIII used to meet Anne Boleyn. I knew what I was giving up when I came here, and I don’t regret it for single minute. So to turn my lament at a lack of seafood into a celebration of my British location, I made a duck confit. I had been hoarding a shiny, golden tin of Périgord duck confit given to me by our gracious hostess Mm. B during sojourn in the south of France. It was time to remind myself about the kind of foods I can enjoy here. While duck confit might not be a British speciality, it is readily available at the Francophile food boutiques that abound in this country. But on this occasion, my duck was special, it was given in the spirit of generosity from one gourmand to another, in mutual respect for the joys of food.
You can roast duck confit or pan-fry it. I did both, as the roasting which I thought would yield the best results, actually didn’t crisp up the skin the way I wanted. So I ended up finishing the job in a sizzling pan. Along with a bunch of steamed green beans, I served the duck up with a traditional side of pommes sarladaise. Named after the city of Sarlat in the Périgord, this dish comprises roast discs of potato, in duck fat, garlic and a sprinkling of thyme. That’s what I love about the French – they have name for a dish like that, a tradition. I only had some Charlotte potatoes left in the cupboard, so my potatoes were slightly smaller, more like little pound coins that did not detract at all from the dish.
I am thankful to Mm. B for giving me the duck confit. I am thankful for the bounty of Britain and beyond. I shall accept the limits of this fine bounty, and forge ahead, without looking back at what I have left behind.