It is impossible to have a real bouillabaisse in England, as our seas are lacking in the variety of fish which goes to the making of the genuine soup. Somehow, too, quite apart from the distinctive flavour of the fish used in the making of bouillabaisse at Marseilles, the eating of it in cold blood, on a foggy day in London, Birmingham or Manchester, for instance, seems all wrong. You want the hot sun of Provençe, the exuberant and voluble waiter, the marseillais, bubbling over with enthusiasm over his famous local dish; and even if his black beard occasionally gets imbibed with it—well—it is all part of the fun of eating bouillabaisse. Thackeray waxed enthusiastic about it—although he misspelt the name—and wrote the following verse:
“This Bouillabaise a noble dish is,
A sort of soup, or broth, or brew.
A hotch-potch of all sorts of fishes
That Greenwich never could outdo;
Green herbs, red peppers, mussels, saffron,
Soles, onions, garlic, roach and dace . . .”
The recipe I give below for bouillabaisse is that of the famous provençal chef, J. B. Reboul, but I have substituted for the list of fish he gives, most of which are unobtainable in this country, a list of some of our more common fish.
Cut the fish into