Before the terrible upheaval and well before talk of a dog psychologist, there was a time in which Dog was happy and carefree. Allow me to take you back to one particularly sunny day in the life of Dog, a public holiday, a day that had stretched out before us with endless possibilities.
On this day, The Italian awoke with a determination not common to a man who can be likened to a fang-toothed vampire in the mornings, complaining about ‘The Light’, which comes through the teeny tiny cracks in the blinds and somehow he can see, despite his heavy-duty eye mask. ‘Today we either bike ride along the Yarra with Dog, or go to the country’. I decided on the bike ride, imagining the traffic on the way home from the country might be on the shite side, given the holiday.
I raised his offer. ‘Let’s ride to the Abbotsford Convent and maybe even Fairfield.’ My enthusiasm was met with a tentative ‘OK’. I ate a good breakfast, carefully planned a non-Lycra all-weather riding ensemble and was ready. The Italian was downstairs with the bikes and the doggy caravan … previously used to cart one RV Macchina home and only once to actually cart Dog. I came down with Dog and some bribery treats that would hopefully make getting him into the caravan a little easier than the previous time.
The Italian simultaneously held up the cart and used the treats to draw Dog into the enclosure. Dog wasn’t having a bar of it. The Italian’s voice went up an octave, in an attempt to sound sweeter, I think, but to me he was quickly resembling the child snatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and was creeping me out. And Dog. The good folk of our neighbourhood walked by and slowed to watch the spectacle, as gentle Italian words of love were spoken to Dog. This didn’t last long, and Dog was soon damned to hell in many creative Latin ways. I mentioned mixed messages to The Italian. Words of love followed again. More treats. When ‘Amore’ finally made it into the caravan half an hour later, we were elated. We zipped him in and all took off quickly, with the Italian carrying the doggy load and me riding behind to make sure he didn’t escape through the top.
Every grumpy bike rider and power walker along the track beamed out smiles as the doggy troupe rode by. ‘Look at that dog’, little kids yelled out in surprise. Every, single person on the trail, even the most hardened of the Lycra mob, stopped to take in the sight of Dog in what is usually a carrier for small children. We looked ridiculous, but the service of inadvertently cheering up the stern folk of Melbourne made it all worthwhile. We just made it to Abbotsford, however by the time we got there The Italian was just about to keel over. ‘Do you know what it’s like to drag 32 kilos of dog?’, he asked, trying to catch his breath. After a hearty lunch we turned the bikes around and began the journey home, forgoing heading further north and therefore killing The Italian. I had a go at dragging the doggy cart up the dreaded hill that led us from the Yarra to home, and almost fell over. All three of us collapsed on the couch when we got home. Dog was snoring his head off in no time. My thighs were burning, and the Italian was at his dramatic best.
‘I’m gonna die’, he barely breathed out, staring into space.
‘No, you’re not.’
‘I am. You don’t understand the pain, sweetie.’
I let him wallow in his pain, dog snoring beside him and so much hair between them, and decided some comfort food was in order. I always keep a bag of fish fillets in the freezer, in case of desperate times and a severe lack of will to buy groceries. With my various condiments on hand and some ciabatta rolls in the fridge, I got to work making fish burgers and chips, while moans of pain wafted through to the kitchen. These beauties would also work well coated in flour, egg and panko breadcrumbs and then fried, but that was something I absolutely didn’t have the energy for. In any case, I highly recommend this yumminess after a hard day of work or an epic bike ride.
2 good-sized fillets of any white, deboned fish (I used basa fillets), to cut into four pieces
4 ciabatta rolls
1 large or 2 small tomatoes
Cos or iceberg lettuce pieces
few sprigs fresh coriander
½ cup whole egg mayonnaise
1 ½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chilli powder
few drops of Tabasco
1 teaspoon cumin
sea salt and ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
chilli flakes or powder, to taste
sea salt and ground black pepper
Serves 4 with some chunky chips on the side
Preheat your oven to 180°C. Begin by preparing your sauces. Combine the ingredients for the mayonnaise, squeezing the lime juice in a little at a time, checking the taste. I used just under half and reserved a little lime for the fish.
Combine the avocado spread ingredients, adjusting the seasoning, acidity and heat to taste. Set aside.
Wash and slice the tomatoes and prepare some nice crunchy lettuce leaves. Cut the ciabatta rolls in half.
Seasoning the fish pieces and either place these under the grill or in a non-stick pan with a little oil. Cook for about 3 minutes on either side and squeeze a little lime over the top about half way through. Place the ciabatta rolls in the oven and cook for a few minutes, or until golden and crunchy. Once the fish is cooked, set aside to rest and then cut the pieces in half, widthways.
Assemble the burgers by spreading the mayonnaise on one half of the bread and the avocado on the other half. Place the fish over the mayonnaise and top with a few coriander leaves, tomato slices and lettuce. Place the lid on top and eat with happiness!