Homemade Bouillabaisse


The homemade meal of the month is back, and Gail has outdone herself this time.

I don’t recall it happening, but Gail developed a love for bouillabaisse. She just started liking it right under my nose, before I even figured out what the heck it was. She didn’t even make a big deal out of it, thereby highlighting a fundamental difference between us. I get excited about meaningless things, but Gail takes them in stride. When I discover a new food item that I love, I talk about it all the time. I beat it to death by telling people about it; ranting and raving like some lunatic who just discovered air. I use it as a conversation starter. I call friends and family and talk about it (eventually they just quit answering the phone). I have issues, I know this.

On the other hand, Gail acts like she discovers exotic new dishes all the time. She’s like the football player who scores a touchdown and hands the ball to the ref without any celebration, because he’s been there, done that. She tries something new, likes how it tastes, and starts ordering it whenever she gets a chance. She never talks much about it, her actions speak louder than words. Then, she starts making it. Then, she starts making derivations of it, like this dish. It’s a bouillabaisse type of stew poured over a baked snapper filet with brown rice.

Like I said, Gail has outdone herself on this dish. She takes vegetable stock and tosses in some onions, leeks, tomatoes, fennel, saffron, other spices, and lots of Pernod. It’s simple, but special. She usually serves bouillabaisse with some crusty bread for dipping, but that’s not necessary here because she has thrown in the brown rice as the starch. The anise flavored Pernod and the saffron make this a distinctive combination. It’s so complicated, I can’t even explain it.

Although I’m not a big fan of black liquorice, I do love anise flavored stuff. I get my anise from two places, from Gail’s bouillabaisse-type dishes and from my mom’s Christmas cookies. Yeah, my mom adds anise to her Christmas cutout cookies. Wow, those are good. Don’t worry mom, I’ve already reserved the December 2007 homemade meal feature for your Christmas cookies.