Posts Tagged ‘castres’

Our friend Brian is here and Ren.

He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and their two young boys. Ren lives in West Hollywood, LA.

This petit coin of SW France is a haven for these urbanites and they are a bit wide eyed about it.

Brian is driving a camper van across Europe on their way to a family holiday in Austria.

Ambitious project!

Last night we finished caponata on the terrace and headed off to Castres–a little reluctantly in my case (I like a post meal linger)–where an evening of Argentinian dance was in full swing as we approached the large open-air space.

Part of the summer’s International Dance Festival that happens each year–it’s free and hugely popular.

There is not a seat to be had.

We walk up the side aisle and stand at the side of the stage--in the wings as it were.

The scene on stage is a village wedding–nicely recreated with only a little overacting!

Gradually a celebration dance develops which entrances the audience–who applaud as the bride is carried off stage by the groom.

The dancers leave and the band plays a lilting South American air that at 10 o’clock on a balmy  night if you were sitting comfortably could send you off nicely to dreamland.

We–are still standing and are wide awake when the stage starts to fill with men and women dressed in lounge suits and forties style dresses ready for an afternoon dance.

The band leaves and a recorded orchestra starts to play over the speaker system a languid tango theme.

The ten couples start to tell their stories through the sensuous dance and it is riveting.

Tango as domestic drama is a new one on me.

I once danced a tango in a Spanish film called Three Women of Today (Tres Mujereas De Hoy)-

not a high point in my career and mercifully not available on DVD, but an enjoyable diversion that helped me buy a flat–with a sculptured Spanish beauty called Norma Duval (top left) and there was nothing domestic about it.

The dancers are engaging us in their lives–it is theatre and not just a simple display of desire.

A second session of tango plays out after the interval with a definite evening setting–black suits for the men and red dresses with provocative side slits for the women.

The same dancers are now dressed to kill.

It is beautifully done but feels more conventional more what you’d expect from a tango display.

I was glad I went.

On the way home Ren says quietly: “Well, I thought that was so much better than the closing ceremony”!

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From his stall at Tuesday’s market in Castres, Monsieur Gayraud–the fishmonger–was extolling the virtues of the maigre–a fish called “thin” if you like.

Comme un bar [sea bass] et moins cher [cheaper].”

I bought one large enough to serve two and asked him to leave the scales on but gut it for me.

I had it in mind to cook it as per the recipe for Simple Sea Bass in Delicious Dishes–in the oven at a very high temperature seasoned on a bed of thyme for about 25 minutes.

I looked up the oddly named maigre in Alan Davidson’s Mediterranean Seafood and Jenny Baker’s Simply Fish

and discovered that its name is not the only odd thing about Monsieur Maigre.

It’s also known as a croaker–because of the noise it makes when looking for food–and it eats a lot apparently, presumably to try to put on weight and change its name.

This is almost more than I need to know about a fish I’m about to cook!

In the oven went M. Maigre/Croaker/Bocca d’Oro (It)/Saiagiz (Turk)/Corvina (Sp)/Mayatico (Gr)… and 20 odd minutes later emerged ready to eat, after its protective scaly skin was peeled carefully back  and the two fillets shared between us.

At the Wednesday market in Realmont, I spied the first asparagus of the season!

I bought enough for the two of us and realized when I got home it would look good on the plate beside the fish; so I put the thin spears, sprinkled with olive oil, on a shallow tray and into the oven, 15 minutes after the fish and they were ready more or less at the same moment–looking crispy and glistening.

A simple dressing of one tablespoon of lemon juice to three of olive oil and seasoning was all we needed for the fish and the asparagus.

What’s in a name? That which we call a maigre

By any other name would taste as sweet.

And call it what you will–it was delicious!

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