Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A pod of pelicans at the Fish Market

Things I like about Sydney No. 63: A pod of pelicans

Early Sunday morning and, before the crowds take over, we're off to the Sydney Fish Market with Daniel's mother to buy whatever is looking freshest to eat for dinner. We take Sniff along for the ride - the smells at the market always drive him mad. He has a worrying propensity to roll around in bird shit at every opportunity and, as there are always a lot of gulls rubbernecking at the Fish Market, there is a lot of bird shit there to send him crazy.

Since we arrive before ten in the morning we have no problem finding a parking space. Much later than that and it is always a problem. Sniff and I head for the park over the road whilst Daniel and Judith check out the fish. It is a very grey and gloomy day and for the first time all the chairs and tables set up outside for the consumption of seafood platters and the like are empty and consequently there are no stray chips or prawn tails scattered about for Sniff to gobble up.

Across the road in the park the ground is sodden and muddy. Underneath a row of arches some itinerants have set up an elaborate camp complete with tents and barbecues. They are up and about, watching a Sunday morning football match being played on their doorstep, smoking and scratching themselves. Sniff scuppers about but isn't keen on the wet and he soon lets himself be dragged back to the market.

I wait outside Claudio's, Daniel's favourite fishmonger, and receive a call from him asking "Bugs or squid?" We discuss this issue for a while, settle for squid, and then, putting my phone away in my pocket, I notice the pelicans. A pod of them, ambling through the carpark.

Now pelicans are one of my favourite birds, large and ungainly on land, but with an effortless flight which makes it a joy to watch them soar serenely through the sky. I never usually get up close to them but this lot were carrying on as if they were just another bunch of Fish Market regulars, squabbling and haggling over prices and over which fish were the freshest. First, they huddled together to discuss tactics. Then, they looked around, left and right, before setting off through the carpark towards Claudio's, an actual living, moving Pelican Crossing.

























As a group of pelicans is either a pod or a scoop, I think I can safely say that this was a right regular scoop....

Daniel's squid later that day was absolutely magnificent - he braised them in Rioja with whole shallots served with a very garlicky aioli and home-made chips on the side. I really should have invited the pelican pod along, they were shivering rather...

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