The nineteenth day of July in the nineteenth year of the millennium beginning in 2000, a special day – our nineteenth wedding anniversary.

A picture of me with the prawns with flames from the flambe with Pernod

The final stage for this excellent starter, flambe with Pernod or Ricard

We don’t usually celebrate our civil wedding as it doesn’t mean much to either Petronela or me (memorable mainly for the unusual happenings associated with it); we celebrate the anniversaries of our church wedding three months later, on 29th October.

Christmas dinner

It was not ‘all the 19s’ which made us make an exception this year but the fact that our 2018 Christmas dinner has been sitting in the freezer since December. Both of us were struck by ‘the bug’ rampant at the time and could handle neither cooking nor eating. We did intend to make it our Easter feast but unexpected guests put paid to that.

Prawns flambéed

The highlight of the feast was what we think is the best starter ever: giant prawns flamed in Pernod (or Ricard). The recipe comes from a much-missed blog – My French Heaven. The prawns had sat for a while in oil with chopped garlic ready for flambé when we were struck down so the whole thing was bunged in the freezer. It didn’t suffer for its 6 month plus freeze.

Nor did the venison steaks for Petronela and wild duck breasts for me – washed down with an excellent Romanian Murfatlar Feteasca Neagra wine: 3 Hectare.

 

Although I drank Pernod and Ricard regularly in the 1960s, probably trying to capture some of the absynthed minds of Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Ernest Hemingway, Oscar Wilde and the like without risking LSD, I’d never thought of cooking with them until I saw Stefane’s ‘Crevette au Ricard‘ on My French Heaven. As some of you will know I adopted them as my Christmas Dinner starter and that turned out to be the gastronomic highlight of 2012. The Pernod flambe adds some indefinable taste, atmosphere, feeling to a very simple dish but surprisingly it cannot be identified as aniseed or liquorice.

Colourful poster for absinth

You can buy this poster from Amazon

As a result I ended up with an almost full bottle of Pernod in the cupboard. What to do with it?

It’s not so full now! I’ve been drinking it, in what I believe is the basic French way – 1:5 with water. I do like it, though at this dilution you have to be a bit careful (unless, of course, you want to get ‘smashed’).

However, I also started to do a bit of research on internet and found that Pernod Ricard themselves had recommended ‘shrimp’ (in the UK these are tiny things found most famously in Morecambe bay; I think it was about what we call prawns)

What 'shrimp' means to most British people

What ‘shrimp’ means to most British people

flambe’d in Pernod at a cooking school in New York. It was described in an article by Roberta Roberti on:

http://www.epicurean.com/articles/evening-with-pernod.html

I presume Roberta is a staff member, writer or something, at Epicurean but the article is a good read and there were two recipes, including the flambe’d prawns.

Although I haven’t made the one given on Epicurean I can be pretty certain I’d prefer Stefane’s simpler recipe. It seems to me that serving the prawn on a bed of fennel is putting it with something too close in flavour to Pernod not to mask the extremely subtle flavour from the flambe. But the Anise Flavored Cream with Fresh Orange Salad, the other recipe given, looks worth a try and I’ll almost certainly have a go at it for our next guests.