Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
Sandy Beach

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Dalmore's Own Delicatessan.

Along the way,there were some interesting variations to the diet,and some welcome treats. The Co-op van was good for a limited selection of fruit,usually oranges and bruised apples of a questionable age. Some sweets were on offer,but as long as we got our "Creamola foam"(the next best drink to Murray's mineral waters),then we were "well happy". When Iain Mor na Chnaimhan ( John Maciver,Detective Superintendent,Met.Police)was up in Dalmore on holiday with his parents at No.10,he went out fishing almost nightly on Loch Roag with his relatives from Doune. They seemed to catch a lot of large crabs,in addition to the fish. For all I know, they might have set some baited pots on the way out.Being a close friend of my mother,he would arrive in our house with a bag of giant crabs' claws. Our favourite way of cooking these was to turn a burning peat over to expose the red-hot surface,placing a couple of claws on top,and allowing them to cook in their own juices. Removing them with the "clobha" (fireside tongs),and cracking open the shells,the juicy white crab meat was food "fit for the gods". Even today,I prefer crab to lobster,not that I'm often put to the test.
We had an aunt(through marriage)who was often ill, and of a delicate constitution,and we were made aware that she required a special diet of white meat and fish. Fish was no problem at this time of year,but chickens were not for eating,chickens were for laying. My Uncle Shonnie was resourceful and bought a ferret which we learned to use to catch rabbits on the grassy slopes overlooking the beach.In quarter of an hour,we could easily trap 6-8 rabbits,which my mother would gut and skin, and these with a few chopped onions gave a delicate sweet stew.
An unusual happening was what the locals called "a road".This was an extremely low tide,where the sun and moon conspired to pull the seas away from the land. With the seas so far out,we could access whole areas of the beach and the rocks for some "fruits de mer". Mussels,limpets and red dulse were collected,but the harvesting of sandeels was our main priority. A sandeel is actually a fish,silver bodied.long and thin with a pointed head,which it uses to burrow down into the sand at the approach of danger. In the beautiful photos of puffins,it is sandeels you see arranged along their beaks. We used a sickle to catch the sandeels.The sickle would be drawn through the wet sand at a depth of 3-6 inches,and when resistance was met,you thrust your hand down,fingers down,palm open and grabbed the fish. We would fill a couple of buckets of fish in this way,and great sport it seemed to us. The "road" would last 3/4 days. A very tasty fish soup was made with milk,onion and a small bit of butter - as good as any you might taste on the Brittany coast.


Shelley said...

Mussels are wonderful! So easy to prepare but they give you back ten times the flavour for your efforts. Dulse I associate with my Canadian-born grandmother. I love the stuff but my kids won't touch it with a ten foot pole!

Shelley said...

Couscous with Mussels

By Scott Marley

Ingredients: (serves 4)

* 225g (8oz) couscous
* 1.8kg (4lb) mussels, cleaned
* 6 tomatoes, peeled sprig thyme
* 1 onion
* 2 cloves garlic, crushed
* 1 stick celery, chopped
* 1 carrot, chopped
* 150ml (1/4 pint) white wine
* 190ml (1/3pint) water or vegetable stock
* pepper and salt
* parsley, to serve


1. Sauté the onion, garlic celery and carrot.
2. Stir in the wine, water or vegetable stock, tomatoes and thyme.
3. Simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Make up the couscous according to the packet instructions.
5. Season, then add the mussels to the stock.
6. Cover and shake the pan until the mussels have opened.
7. Serve the mussels on warm couscous and top with parsley.