roasted mackerel / moving days

Illustration by Zena Kay

We’ve been planning to move for months. Nearly six months after signing a new lease, we finally did it. I spent these six months slowly packing up all eight years worth of the things that I've collected into big brown boxes. I came with seven suitcases when I moved here from Sydney and left this flat with a full truck. Dinner plates were wrapped in paper, glass vases held safe in bulges of bubble wrap and tape and the contents of my wardrobe was stuffed inside duffle bags. My maximalist tendency's confirmed with every trinket and souvenir stashed away for safe keeping. "Keep or throw? Go or stay", a soundtrack to daily press conferences, dial-tones of Facetime, and the hum of helicopters to the nearby hospital.

Clutching to my stuff has become a crutch.

This craving of comfort that has become my most familiar feeling during these strange six months is helped by keeping every little thing that I love. Clutching to my stuff has become a crutch. The throw/go pile has stayed small and inside the new place, I sit and stare at the boxes that I'm waiting to find space to store. It all made it twenty-minutes away across London where we’re moving - every plate, novelty glass and sentimental something that I swore must stay. Everything except one bottle of perfume that slipped out the side of a box as the removal man picked it up. It shattered on the tiles at the entrance of my old building. Its scent sunk into the grout and will stay long after I’ve left for good.

Now I think about looking forward to this summer and all the things I wanted it filled with - the sea, swimming, and seafood. While our plans for those things will have to be found within the perimeters of our postcodes for now, with pools/ponds closed and the sea too far away, seafood is the one thing I can make to me feel closer to everything else. Our new home shares a street with a legendary London fish shop which means my cookbooks are all dog-eared at the seafood pages.

This is the first thing I want to make as soon as I get the kitchen unwrapped and unpacked. Make it for one, two, or ten - it's a forgiving fish and best eaten at this time of year when they're close to the English coast.

Roasted Mackerel (stuffed with lemon & fennel)

What you'll need:

- whole mackerel

- a lemon

- a bulb of fennel

- a bulb of garlic

- a bunch of parsley

- olive oil

- white wine

- sea salt

How to make it:

In a mortar and pestle make a paste with the garlic cloves, salt, zest of a lemon and parsley.

Add as much garlic as you desire and as much parsley as you feel like, I like mine quite green and garlicky so I add a lot of both.

Make deep cuts on the flesh of the fish with a sharp knife and stop when you hit the bones. Rub the fish inside and out with the garlic/parsley mix.

Slice the fennel bulb and lemon into thin slices and lay them inside the cavity of the fish.

Drizzle the fish with olive oil, sprinkle the skin with salt.

Put the rest of the fennel and lemon down as the base to lay the fish onto in a large roasting tray with a generous splash of white wine.

Roast in a 200°C oven for 15-20 minutes until the outside of the mackerel is slightly charred and the flesh pulls away tender from the bones.

Cold white wine is needed, so are potatoes and maybe a salad if you fancy - prepare them before you start on the mackerel, you want to eat these

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