Issue No 17
- A Yawn in Your Ear (Editorial)
- World Service (News)
- John Trotter ("Just a Bit of a Boy, tapping away in the corner")
- Barry Winton's Not Quite Overnight Sensations Part 2
- Steve Kinch - The Interview
Manfred Mann - Storyteller - The Fishy D'Abo One
- Studio Lighting - Simon Rickman
Manfred Mann - Story Teller (The Fishy D'Abo One)
Mike D'Abo and I stepped out on the stripped pine veranda of a very lovely house in a forest in the North of Sweden.
It was early evening, it was summer, and we two had bravely volunteered to taste the local delicacy, a partly rotted
fish that was traditionally eaten with a boiled potato. It was a famous and very well known food combination, I was
proudly informed. I later found out that the reason we were out on the veranda, and not in the house, was that if the
tin was to be opened in the house, the fumes would lodge in the furniture and curtains, would infect the fabric of the premises when the next generation inhabited the premises and probably for many years afterwards.
I wonder who the person was, who decided that what this area needed to be associated with, was partly rotted
fish eaten with a boiled potato. 0ne would have thought that anyone with a piece of fish would generally be seeking
for it not to go rotten. Did some Johan Swede forget about it, or was he perhaps delayed by an attractive Ingrid, and
came home later to the smell of partly rotted fish, and sniff and think '0 Goody, Goody', it's nearly gone off and smells terrible, but 1 bet it tastes good, 'I'll put it in a tin and create a local delicacy'.
I have travelled a fair amount and have noticed that the word famous, when referring to famous local delicacies
seems to have a somewhat different meaning to the one we associated with it. I have as the years have gone by,
begun to develop an amount of sympathy with the philistine who travels the world looking for Chicken in the basket,
and seeks a hamburger when standing in a Bavarian street market, and I have regularly cursed my gastronomic
open mindedness, as I ask for Reindeer eyebrows in Finland, or pigs toenails in aspic, in Thuringia. I often would look enviously at my colleges who had ordered Steak and Chips, which looked and smelled wonderful.
I went first, don't know why, perhaps bravado. A piece of potato was put on a fork, the tin opened, several metres away. Oddly enough, I don't remember
a smell, anyway the famous Swedish concoction went into my mouth.
There are at least two things I never thought I would acquire a taste for. Two horrible, horrible things, olives, blue cheese and no sugar in tea and coffee.
Well as time has gone, each of these has become a part of my diet. I am not quite sure how much time would have to pass before the Swedish fish was
an unnoticed food in my life, but I suspect evolution would have evolved a few more complete species before this would happen.
I was apprehensive, everyone was watching me, I chewed and my fears evaporated. This didn't taste too bad, actually it didn't taste at all for a few
microseconds, my sensation of taste had been numbed, my taste buds just gave up life for a bit, and emigrated, at this grievous assault. When my senses
came back, a sensation started at the top of my sinuses and spread rapidly downwards. I hurled myself at the veranda rail and spat out in a vain attempt
to get rid of the taste, if taste was the word for the intense fumes that engulfed me. This was a taste that defeated endless rinsing toothpaste's and brushing/flossing etc., for a considerable time after.
It now fell to Michael D'Abo to show courage and fortitude in the knowledge of the fact that the fish had reduced me to a shaking spitting swallowing and rinsing obsessive-compulsive.
Michael was an aristocrat amongst us, he had gone to the same school as Winston Churchill, and Michael had been Captain of Cricket at that school.
Michael's ancestors were the same people, who had created, ruled and maintained the British Empire across the globe. Michael was born to eat Yaks
testicles in the Gobi Desert, Sheep's eyes in Arabia, crushed locust in Central Africa, all for the sake of Great Britain. Michael D'Abo was born for this
moment; he stepped forward with a casual unfazed manner, as if to merely have a cup of tea in an English country house, the old clocks ticking in the
corner, the horses in the field, the servants in their place. If a negotiation were taking place this would be an opportunity to add Northern Sweden to the
British Empire. The potato and fish went into Michael's mouth, he chewed casually for a short while, as the fumes made their way around to every
sensory nerve ending, in his head. He swallowed, considered casually as if savouring a great and special delicacy for the first time. He paused, then said,
and considering how to describe what he had tasted, and then Michael said casually 'You know', he said, 'These taste very much like English potatoes'! [Top]