Ian has discovered fish sticks.

By Whisky, the Black & White Cat

These, if you’ve overlooked them in the past, are strips of extruded fish protein, smeared with something pink and funky to lift them out of the doldrums of total tastelessness.

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Formerly Ian used to pounce on packets of prawns whenever he saw them. But of late he’s grown increasingly concerned over the source of these marine relatives of household creepy crawlies he’d turn his nose up at. The whole supply chain for the wee beasties is one long nightmare from beginning to end. To you and me, the sea’s muddy bottom is just that: a muddy bottom. But to sea-life in general it is hatchery, nursery and larder all rolled into one. The smartest of sea creatures call it their playground. Octopuses tool about it all day. Bottlenose dolphins have bottle noses to go prodding in it.

Apparently the way you get prawns is to drag a huge rectangular bucket along the seabed, haul it up and use slave labour to pick out the prawns by hand, then throw the bits of coral, seaweed, fish fry and other bottom-dwelling creatures – by far the greater part – back into the water, dead or dying.

It occurred to Ian that all he was really after were chewy bits in his korma sauce. He didn’t really want them to taste of anything: the sauce had flavour, and to spare. That’s the trouble with fish. If it has any flavour at all, you generally wish it hadn’t.

I realise I’m addressing my human audience here. We cats are of the opinion that all food should have flavour: the more the better, up to a point. But where fish is concerned, the human ideal seems to be no flavour at all.

The great thing about a fish stick, therefore, is that it can be made of fish protein from any source. You don’t have to go ruining the seabed to get it, with consequent detriment to fish stocks.

Ian is so pleased with his discovery that he’s now tried second sourcing the korma sauce. Half a tub of pease pudding plus a squirt of mayonnaise approximates the texture he’s used to. All that’s necessary is to add curry powder, plus of course the chopped-up fish sticks.

Once upon a time, when Indians stayed mainly in India, curry powder was a standardised commodity. It had a distinctive flavour which brooked no variation. Nowadays there is balti, tandoori masala, jalfrezi, korma even, plus a host of others besides. Ian says it’s just a matter of finding one he likes.

I reckon there’s more to it than that. The first time he concocted his ersatz korma sauce he put in a whole packet of tandoori masala and it left him out-of-sorts for days. He suspects the ginger, which is an essential ingredient of most curry powders, and now he’s on the lookout for a substitute for that. I shudder to think what he’ll come up with.

updated: 23:36 18/11/2015