France - - Food -

The French like to see their fish with the head on and the gills in­tact. This can be dis­con­cert­ing: some fish, like loup (wolf-fish) are in­tim­i­dat­ingly toothy, and monk­fish are breath­tak­ingly ugly. But look­ing a fish in the eye is the best way to judge its fresh­ness. A fish with dull, sunken eyes and a gen­er­ally hung-over look is past its prime.

Look for feathery, coral-pink gills (fold the gill-cov­ers back for a closer look) and avoid fish with grey and slimy gills. If the fish­mon­ger will let you, give your prospec­tive pur­chase a poke. The flesh should be firm and your fin­ger shouldn’t leave a dent.

Fi­nally, trust your nose; a re­ally fresh fish should have very lit­tle smell. As for crabs, lob­ster, prawns, oys­ters and other shell­fish: har­den your heart and buy them alive and twitch­ing.

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