Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fish and Chips

In one of the previous blogs, I had displayed a se-tennant set of 5 ships engaged in the different processes in deep-sea fishing. But, I forgot to mention, the not so deep sea fishing efforts of some of us, who lived on Ruski Ostrov (Russian Island) just off the city of Vladivostok. From about the 15th of December to almost the 15th of February the Sea of Japan that entered our sheltered bay use to freeze up. It was at such times that we used to stroll on the ice with our more experienced Russian friends. The idea was to walk out on the ice to a distance between 100 to 300 meters from the shore, place a wooden stool, and drill two or three holes around us with a special drill. Prepare our fishing rods with bait, and wait for the fish to do the rest. And the rest they did do, and most enthusiastically at that. For, within an hour one could easily collect upto around 10 to 12 healthy and fit specimens of around 18 inches in length and about 8 inches in diameter. Some called it tuna and some carp. But, to tell you frankly, I never was really interested in the label, all I was interested in was how the fried fish tasted. And tasted real good it did, with crudely cut and fried potatoes. I say crudely, for the simple reason that the outside temperature was mostly around minus 20 C, and any activity involving cleaning and cutting involved removing our thick gloves, and that was daunting. A true epicurean was bound to frown at our efforts, but, we residents of ‘Pyervi Korpus’ (Barrack No. 1) loved it. It was a change from the horse, whale, hammerhead shark and any other unknown beast that happened to unfortunately land up in our plates. This used to happen sometimes if the mutton train was late due to inclement weather. I’ll tell you about these unfortunate animals and fish species and how and why they landed up on our plates, and what they tasted like, another day, as it’s a tale by itself. But, I must admit that whereas the hammerhead shark was edible, the sturdy farm horse wasn’t. I know all this is far from philately. But remember, one cant just keep licking stamps, one has to eat too ;-))

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