Monday, September 10, 2018

In At The Deep End - Literally!

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Were your childhood monsters in the wardrobe or under the bed? Jake Tilson’s monsters were in the attic. They sprang from a book he discovered there, illustrating the violence to be found beneath the sea – bloodied waters during a dolphin attack, and “gaping, skeletal jaws of a great white”.  To tackle his fear of all things fishy, he undertook to cook his way out of his phobia.


Even if you never cook a morsel from In At The Deep End, it is still a great read for the armchair cook/traveller. We start off in Jake’s family kitchen in Venice (brings back some lovely memories for me as I honeymooned in that strange and lovely city). Venice is photographed as if by tourist camera.

We travel with the Tilson family (Jake, his wife, Jeff and daughter, Hannah) to Sweden, and experience such luscious dishes as Jansson’s Temptation and Gravadlax.  Sprats feature quite a lot in this section in one form or another as do fishballs. I’d like to have seen a greater range of dishes in this section. Jake raises his concerns about over-fishing and gives some advice on how to fish local!

It was this big...

 Aberdeen in Scotland is next – again with the tourist photos, which work extremely well. It wouldn’t be Scotland without kippers and we get a bbq, several pates (or does he mean pâtés?), and potted kippers as well as a crab soup called Parten Bree. There is a lovely collage of tiny houses (some barely more than sheds) in the village of Footdee - or Fittie to the locals.

We cross an ocean to New York for the next leg of the trip and make Salmon and Dill Baked Fish Cakes using canned Alaskan salmon. I can’t bear tinned salmon so someone else will have to try this recipe and report back. I’ll happily try the Crab Cakes with fennel and tarragon though.

You needn't shell out to make a fabulous seafood meal...

Jake gets a commission to write about Australia, so with a wave of his magic wand – ok, just turn the page – and we land in Sydney. We’re straight into one of my favourite foods – mussels – and he’s grilled them three ways – with feta, pinenuts and mint, with chilli and coriander, with nuts and garlic. Yum, yum, and yum! There are a few fish in this chapter that I know I am not going to be able to get at my local market, but hey, if I get to Australia, I’ll know how to cook barramundi and red emperor. Meanwhile, I can substitute similar local varieties.

Japan is next where Jake discovers that no morsel of fish is wasted. After all the exotic travel, it is rather deflating to end up in Peckham for the final chapter of the book and as if Jake feels this, he carries the influences through to the first dish in this section – fried fish with wilted herbs and noodles.

Pasta is kinda noodles right?

The whole book hangs together extremely well so it is no surprise to learn that Jake is the designer and photographer as well as the author.

I’m not going to cook everything from this book, but it is a book I shall enjoy reading for many years to come, with as much a right to space on the bedside table as on the kitchen bookshelf.

(Review copy supplied by Quadrille Publishing. Opinion supplied by Hester Casey!)

In At The Deep End  by Jake Tilson
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN 9781844009756
Price: £20.00
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