I don’t know about you, but I’m not really one for photo albums. Yes, I do own a couple of them, but ever since cameras went digital in this household, I’ve pretty much lumped everything onto disks and hard drives for safekeeping and future reference.
I know, not quite the same as flicking through pages of photographic memories, but when I’m trying to de-clutter my life, clunky photo albums in boxes don’t help with the process.
Disc albums are more my scene. Paged folders with a variety of dvds that store all my photos – additional to hard drives. Best to keep them in two places, right, incase one of them malfunctions and all things are lost.
I was looking through our travel photos from a big trip we did back in 2002 – nine months of backpacking around the world with a very new digital camera. Photography wasn’t a major interest back then, nor was photographing food, but I sure was curious about the subject.
Towards the end of our epic trip we travelled through Turkey, Syria and Jordan, hitting the Red Sea coast of Egypt. One of the first stops was Dahab, a coastal town that was small part local and big part tourist. We were there to settle in for several days, take a breather from being on the road and rack up a few more scuba diving hours.
We loved it so much that when we got back to Sydney, a return visit was planned the following year with a bunch of friends; revisiting the ancient icons of Cairo and partaking in more diving on the shipwrecks and reefs in the stunning Red Sea.
The waterfront strip in Dahab is a stretch of alfresco restaurants between the pavement and the sand. Nothing fancy, just a hodgepodge of umbrellas, tables and cushioned seating that springs to illuminated life as soon as the sun goes down.
All the restaurants set up portable cabinets and plinths displaying the days seafood catch on mounds of ice. Friendly spruikers try to lure you in with cheep beers, hookah pipes and something “much better than the guy next door”.
The display of seafood was what drew us in to the restaurants each night; fish that was caught just offshore. It was so easy to just point at the fish you wanted for dinner, sink into the oversized cushions on the beach, order beers and wait for the meal to appear.
And it didn’t cost a bomb, either. All seafood was cleaned, cooked and served with roast vegetables, rice and flatbread – simply prepared with no bells and whistles.
I wanted to stay in Dahab forever.
The recipe I’ve got here pays homage to our languid days and nights on the Egyptian Red Sea. A simple preparation of local herrings done much like the fish was done in that part of Egypt. They may not be the colourful coral trout I always ordered in Dahab, but the flavours are pretty bang on.
*Maitre D’ Paella Pan supplied by Scanpan