Fay’s fish soup

My mum Fay made this fish soup last Friday.

She bought the wild sea bass in Tachbrook street market, London, from Pat, the only fishmonger she trusts.

“If he packs up, I’ll pack up,” says my mum.

Here’s Fay’s riff on an Evelyn Rose recipe. Two medium-sized fish serves five.

Sweat sliced onion and carrots in butter. Once softened, add the two whole sea bass – or any pieces of fish – and turn over in the fat. Cover with water and add a bay leaf. Simmer until fish is cooked (flakes easily, about 15 minutes) with the lid on.

Cook the whole fish, gutted but with head intact – this will add flavour. Take off the head at the end. Skin and fillet before serving.

Add a dollop of cream fraiche or sour cream, braised fennel and rice with aromatic saffron.

The No Tesco in Stokes Croft campaign (note Saturday’s celebratory demonstration) has been on my mind (and blog) this week, along with the brave squatters who have now occupied the site that used to be a comedy club and which  Tesco wants to turn into a soulless supermarket.

On Wednesday I had the privilege of visiting the peaceful protestors in the occupied premises. They are doing a grand job and I am grateful for their action.

Funnily enough, my mum had a Tesco story last Friday.

“Jack Cohen, the founder of Tesco, had a barrow outside my grandmother’s shop in Morgan Street market in the East End. My family used to look down on him because he was just a barrow boy and they were shop-owners.”

Taking advantage of the property slump, Tesco is intent on buying up land.

Tesco wants control of every purchase from food to movies.

I can’t help wishing Jack stayed a barrow boy.

13 responses to “Fay’s fish soup

  1. Yuuuuuuum I love fish soup! It reminds me of being in France and having a huge delicious bowl of soup with tiny little dishes of croutons, aioli and parmesan treats! Perfect winter lunch! x


  2. Geraldine Winkler

    Fay has a range of versions.

    I read a review of Stein’s place and the £36 sole today. The reviewer wisely said, the point about sole is you do as little as possible to it. The sad thing is, it was the sauce that impressed, not the sole. I sound like my grandmother but is is true- you can’t get wild salmon or Dover sole, even if you do take out a mortgage in order to buy it.

    The proliferation of Tescos makes this situation worse and worse. The likes of Pat, whose stall has been there for many decades, (used to tbe the Wright Brothers) and in itself a rarity, will disappear altogether.


  3. Mothers are so dramatic aren’t they… Funnily enough there’s a campaign against Tesco in Streatham as I write too. Do they aggravate people wherever they go??


  4. Thanks, Mallika, for that crucial bit of info.

    It would be interesting to collate how many people are currently trying to stop Tesco from spreading its tentacles into local life.

    So far I am counting: Stokes Croft, Bristol; Lewes Road, Brighton and now Streatham, London.

    Ashton Gate, Bristol just successful won a mammoth planning battle with Tesco’s, only to have to start again with Sainsbury’s.

    These billionnaire supermarkets are like a many-headed hydra!


  5. Richard Craven

    So Tesco ought to be excluded from Stokes Croft, because your family once considered themselves to be Jack Cohen’s social superiors. How unpleasant.


  6. Hi Richard, thanks for visiting my blog. My ancestor’s reaction to Jack Cohen was NOT the reason for my opposing Tesco’s in Stokes Croft.

    I mentioned the family story because it was a piece of social history that interested me.

    And the coincidence tickled me.

    However, I welcome your comment because it enables me to set the record straight.

    I do not welcome Tesco’s in Stokes Croft because there is already a Tesco five minutes away; because Tesco has a policy of buying up land in the recession, regardless of whether the community needs a Tesco; because the consultation was minimum and did not hear from local traders and residents who were against the proposal; because research shows that Tesco or any giant supermarket has a negative effect on local businesses, community and the local economy; and – on a personal level – Tesco for me is part of the problem not the solution: its long supply chains, centralised distribution and squeezing of farmers has a negative impact on small farmers and animal welfare.


  7. Richard Craven

    Hi Elizabeth

    “My ancestor’s reaction to Jack Cohen was NOT the reason for my opposing Tesco’s in Stokes Croft”

    Fair enough, that was slightly cheap of me. My apols.

    The rest of your comment details your reasons for opposing Tesco. Since we’re already talking about this elsewhere, I’ll not respond here.



  8. We in Flagstaff Arizona, pop 100,000 but 80,000 when students go home for summer, have successfully stopped a Wal Mart superstore from being built. City councilors were opposed to it. So let’s hope you become a city councilor, Elisabeth. Vote for EW!


  9. Wow, interesting.

    Phil – On what grounds were the city councillors opposed to the WalMart superstore being built?

    It seems like there are many of these actions taking place all over the world. Just on this blog I have heard about Ashton Gate in Bristol, Streatham in London and a market town in Devon and now… Flagstaff, Arizona!


  10. Reasons to oppose Walmart superstore in Flagstaff:
    1) we already have a Walmart
    2) it would have had a negative impact on small businesses and jobs.
    The thing to do is to write an Impact Statement. This is where you figure out how many jobs and small businesses will be lost, and subtract it from how many jobs Tesco will be likely to bring in. The job argument is the most effective one. However, we havn’t prevented Big Box stores such as Barnes and Noble (see this
    While I have the opportunity, let me boast about Flagstaff.
    In 2001, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) designated the City of Flagstaff as the world’s first “International Dark-Sky City.” This is to prevent excessive street lighting at night, so we can see the fabulous stars! See this link:
    Also we have a city ordinance that prevents any building being higher than 3 stories.


    • Love Margaret Jones’s blog. Love the account of the protest vs Barnes & (ig-)Noble and the slogan:

      “Support Local Businesses – End Corporate Dominance”

      You are right about the jobs argument.

      And the night sky!

      Thanks, Philippa.


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