By Lea Harris
Over the past few months, I've been lucky enough to have travelled to Tbilisi in Georgia, stopping off in Istanbul for a few days on my way back home. The markets in both cities are just phenomenal and have made me realise just how much we have lost a connection with our food.
It's great that our farmers' markets allow us to talk about where the food we buy comes from but the meat is all vac-packed. Being a butcher's daughter, I grew up with sides of beef being lugged through the shop into the cold room. Today this activity is rarely seen, but in Tbilisi and Istanbul, it's an everyday occurrence. Not everyone's cup of tea, I know, to see lights (liver, lungs and heart) hanging in a window like grotesquely beautiful flowers; my immediate reaction was, I wonder if the locals know about haggis?
Down on the shores of the Bosphorus you'll find stall after stall of men cooking and selling mackerel sandwiches. The cooks taking almost surgical care of removing as many bones as possible before shoving the charred fish into fresh bread, slapping on a tangy salad of tomatoes, onions and herbs with a good squeeze of lemon and a dash of pomegranate molasses. You need to pick your chef carefully, some cook with a fag hanging out the corner of their mouth! Nothing beats freshly bbq'd mackerel, so when the sun's shining, sit back chomping on the perfect summer sarnie! Mackerel Sarnies 2 mackerel fillets per person Rolls or your favourite bread Tomatoes, spring onions, herbs to taste Rocket Lemon Salt, pepper Oil Pomegranate molasses • Chop tomatoes, onions and herbs, mix then leave for ½ hour for flavours to meld. • Brush fish with oil, season with salt and pepper and place skin side down on bbq or griddle pan. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes each side. • Shove the fish into a warmed roll or lightly toasted bread. Cram in the salad, rocket with a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses. Have napkins at the ready to catch juices that dribble down the chin!