Sunday, 25 September 2011

In at the deep end - book review

In at the deep end by Jake Tilson is so much like reading someone's travel journal that they have added to in scrapbook fashion with memento's/photographs/badges/rubbings/drawings/sketches/prints/tickets/patterns and other embellishments, to bring alive the memories contained within. Its a feast for the eyes and there is an awful lot to take in, so much so that you could almost miss the recipes if you don't pay attention! Its one of those books that you would pick up time and time again and find something you had missed on previous encounters. The background to the book is that Jake is lets say, 'not a fish lover' (he was actually afraid of fish!) and during a fair bit of international travel, across the globe from Venice to Tokyo taking in Sweden, Scotland, New York, Sydney, London and the great barrier reef, he gets to grips with a whole range of fish and develops his knowledge, skills and a fair few recipes along the way.

There is also a series of podcasts that accompany each chapter of this book. These are available to download freely from the 'in at the deep end' website. These podcast chapters are being added to (Venice and Sweden chapters are there now) and it really is a MUST that you listen to these as you read the book, otherwise you miss so much more, particularly about the visuals in the book and how they came to be there. The podcasts also give more clues with background noises and personal narratives of Jake's travel notes, these all help paint the picture of the places, his travels and experiences with his family (there's nothing like the sound of sizzling fish frying in a pan to get you thinking about fish and wanting to eat fish!).

Not Swedish; this is Port of Lancaster Smoking!
The chapter on Sweden reminded me that I'd been to Gothenberg myself (some years ago) and the description and observations of a Swedish smoke house led me to recall a local food festival I'd been to in the summer. It also reminded me of how much I love smoked fish, especially when its correctly smoked.

Not a cat lover particularly, but couldn't help but fall head over heels for the sweetest Swedish cat face on page 52.
Photo from In at the deep end website

Other chapters of the book on podcast are currently works in progress and should be available to download this month.
As a recipe book, at first glance this may appear to be a hard one to follow in some respects as the main fish ingredients are not easy to come by for all of the recipes, (unless you want to do a fair bit of international travelling that is!) but hold your nerve, the author knows this and suggests other fish alternatives are used, most especially local and sustainable ones. Its important to remember this book is about an adventure with fish and bringing that adventure to your own kitchen with local fish if you can.

The sustainable fish debate is covered in this book, Jake admits he's confused (me too, I'm very confused and I have yet to do the research he has!).

I liked this book, it made me think, it educated me and it literally felt like it took me to places I may never visit. It also took me to my local fishmongers for fresh fish to make a recipe from the book for supper.  I tried to follow one of the books mantra's and buy local fish, but on this particular day the closest catch to me was fresh mackerel and smoked mackerel, both from Scotland, which I did buy but I also bought some bass fillets. And with these I made a version of the Baked Striped Caponata (New York) from the book (pictured above with my own bubble and squeak cakes). Other recipes include the likes of; chinese steamed sea bream, fishball stew. fried fish, wilted herbs, noodles, goby rissotto alongside more common fish dishes such as smoked mackerel or kipper pate, gravadlax, soused herrings and fish cakes.

My local fish supplier
The fresh and smoked mackerel is for another fishy adventure. As is the remainder of the book for me as I didn't manage to read within one is advocated on the back cover.
Jake Tilson, the author is an artist/designer/photographer/cook/broadcaster he has written at least one other book about food. He likes fish now, he didn't sketch this, neither did I!
Image from Google images


Please leave a comment...if you have tried one of my recipes I'd love feedback, and thank you for taking time to pop by to read my blog.

Susan x