I remember a meal of fresh mussels and roast hare with splendid nameless wines at a tiny French village called Cap au Pin, somewhere along the road between Bordeaux and Angoulême. In a good restaurant, the meal might not have been such a memorable one; from a tiny roadside estaminet, it was.
I remember saddle steaks of cougar, eaten because we had nothing else, but astonishingly good white meat, more delicate than veal. And liver of yearling bear, again because we had nothing else, hastily cooked at dusk by a campfire four thousand feet up in the Pacific coast mountains. It was so tender that it broke as we turned it in the frying pan.
I have long remembered fishing suppers in Dorset—flaky bread, golden Jersey butter. Blue Vinny cheese, with draught ale, tomatoes, lettuce and fresh fruit.
But if it must be just one meal,
let me remember my first Chilean fishing lunch. A grassy glade under the shade of white-blooming ulmo and roble trees, the river rushing by beyond a blazing fuchsia bush, boats beached in the eddy. Utter idleness while the boatmen light a hardwood fire, set the wine to cool in the river, fillet the small trout especially kept in the morning’s catch. Then the meal. Trout fillets swimming in black butter, salad of tomato and cucumber and hot green peppers; barbecued lamb, eaten in the fingers, potatoes baked in the hardwood embers, a full bottle of Chilean wine; then huge peaches, coffee and a sip of aguardiente to induce sleep. It was, said the boatmen, “the bad hour,” at least until three o’clock. With five or ten kilometres of new river ahead, lapwing and ibis calling and the scarlet Chilean bellflower blooming on its vines overhead. I thought it a good—and memorable—hour.
MR. HAIG-BROWN IS A B.C. WRITER, SPORTSMAN AND MAGISTRATE.
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