caldillo de congrio, aka Chilean Bouillabaisse

Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda has been a true inspiration for me as a writer. I came across his recipe  for Chilean Bouillabaisse expressed in the form of poetry in a book entitled “Aphrodite,”  by Isabel Allende.

In the storm – tossed
Chilean
Sea
lives the rosy conger,
giant eel
of snowy flesh
and in Chilean
stewpots
along the coast
was born the chowder,
thick and succulent,
a boon to man.
You bring the conger, skinned,
to the kitchen
(its mottled skin slips off
like a glove,
leaving the
grape of the sea
exposed to the world),
naked,
the tender eel
glistens,
prepared
to serve our appetites.
Now
you take
garlic,
first, caress
that precious
ivory,
smell
its irate fragrance,
then
blend the minced garlic
with onion
and tomato
until the onion
is the color of gold.
Meanwhile
steam
our regal
ocean prawns,
and when
they are tender,
when the savor is
set in a sauce
combining the liquors
of the ocean
and the clear water
released from the light of the onion,
then
you add the eel
that it may be immersed in glory,
that it may steep in the oils
of the pot,
shrink and be saturated.
Now all that remains is to
drop a dollop of cream
into the concoction,
a heavy rose,
then slowly
deliver
the treasure to the flame,
until in the chowder
are warmed
the essences of Chile,
and to the table
come, newly wed,
the savors
of land and sea,
that in this dish
you may know heaven.

Pablo Neruda

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