Take one crayfish

Or two, if you are a lucky one.

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Eat them however you like. But do not throw out the shells. These need to be roasted and then boiled with a bunch of other goodies to make an unbelievable stock. Since you’ll have no idea how to do it justice so soon after the making, stash it in the freezer, where it will probably bug you for the next 10 months or so.

Hey, I’m just saying. That’s what happened to me, so it’s not impossible.

The other day I finally got it together to face the stock. (I should give credit to Dr. Dread the anthropologist who was visiting, and who does not partake of the glorious red (or piggie) meat, meaning we were forced into a three-day omega-3 – omega-3-day? – fishy binge). I did what I had been avoiding for 10 months. I made risotto.

I’ve been avoiding it for a number of reasons. For one thing, everyone seems to talk about risotto as this easy, everyday staple that they whip up when they’ve got nothing in the kitchen. Which is fair and well, but let’s also face the fact that there are other everyday staples that are much more forgiving than risotto. Like pasta. Sure, you can overcook it, but it’s very difficult to make pasta really unpalatable. Fishcakes. (Pork belly confit!). Risotto is potentially wonderful, but only on a slippery slope to heavy, unpleasant gloop.

Also, I had no arborio rice in the house, and have resisted buying it for the last 10 months because I’m not convinced I realy need it in the kitchen. But I do have grødris, or the short fat rice used for Danish rice pudding. It looks very similar, though with slightly smaller grains. I knew it would be a risk, but since I also had a nice packet of fat prawns and a bunch of fennel in the fridge, I plunged in and stirred (adding vodka instead of wine, and a significant spike of chilli, garlic and fennel seeds to the mix).

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I generally have no qualms boasting about something that went well in the kitchen (nor do I avoid the stupid excuses when they don’t), but this was such a success I am almost embarrassed to say how good it was. It certainly wasn’t “authentic”, but it was hands down the best risotto I’ve ever tasted. In fact if they were all like that I’d probably eat a lot more of the stuff. Of course I should really thank the crayfish, but that would be silly.

(This strange habit of apologising for our successes reminds me of anthropology. Anthropo (man) + logia (study of) = study of man. Why does it so often come acoss as an apology for man?)

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