Grey Matter

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I have a real hankering and a lavish lust for prawns of late. I’ve been eating them around three or four times a week slaistered in homemade sauce.

I don’t know why this has happened to me. And quite honestly I’m not complaining. Because I do like prawns. Big ones.

Those that don’t make it into my cocktail mix of tomato sauce, mayonnaise, lime or lemon juice and a very good shake of black pepper are devoured naked. And that’s usually the first half dozen.

I was a pate man for a while. A few big dollops of the stuff, a couple of slices of toast or some oatcakes, butter and a tomato cut into quarters. Handy for eating off a tray on your knee while watching the telly or reading a book.

Soup is another favourite of mine. During the summer usually out of a tin or packet but made by own hands once winter arrives. I haven’t made a panful yet, but I’ll be starting soon.

No recipe needed for homemade soup. At least not my variety.

My favourite is tattie and the secret is to chop the potatoes into different sizes and even grate some. That means that when the soup is dished-up it has a consistency that is varied.

It’s thick from the gratings and the lumps can be anything from a quarter of an inch square to an inch square. Great for eating. And I never use onions, only leeks. My soup pan is big and I live alone. So a pan lasts me about three, sometimes four days. But not with onions, because they go off pretty quickly. Leeks are my advice. Definitely leeks.

Pate I don’t do much now and I miss it and will return. The winter soup will probably drag me away from my beloved prawns, but not too quickly – I still have three-quarters of a jar of mayonnaise which I don’t want to waste. I’m not a salad lover, so it will have to go with the prawns.

A couple of times this summer I’ve spent a week working in Newton Stewart helping out on The Southern’s sister papers. It’s canny toon is Newton Stewart and my hotel – the Galloway Arms – is just across the road from the Galloway Gazette 

Gordon, the boss, and his staff are very accommodating and the food is great, particularly the Galloway beef and local venison. I just happened to mention at the start of my last visit that the scallops had disappeared off the menu.

There was reason, I was told. But not to worry, come Wednesday I would have my scallops. And boy, did I have scallops. I was expecting my usual starter portion. But no, the chef had prepared a main course, rich in cream and a malt whisky sauce,mixed through with finely diced potatoes, that almost overflowed the bowl. Superb – and well worth the wait.

At home I have what I call my eating shirt. It’s seen better days and will never again grace public gaze – except on the washing line. Because when I do eat from a tray on my knee, I am prone to being a bit messy, so my eating shirt saves my good shirts. Prawn cocktail sauce – my variety at least – can leave a bit of a stain that’s hard to shift.

I have another seafood favourite and that is fish fingers – scoffed, of course, with chips and beans and a couple of slices of well-buttered bread. And isn’t it amazing how a packet of 10 slide from box and fit per into the frying pan.

I never buy the 12-finger packet.