I'm in Barcelona this week, attending a conference. Not much time to get out and about, but always enjoy being in sight of the Mediterranean. Life is instantly different in sight of the Med. I feel I have some kind of ancestral memory down my Italian line.
I had lunch at the Boqueria market the other day. Almejas (clams) a la plancha and also mixed mushrooms, both simply drizzled with some garlicky herbed olive oil and fresh sea salt. So simple, so tasty. The mushrooms full of texture and flavour. How dare you not mop up the plate with a slice of crusty bread.
I look at dishes like this and try to dissect them. Why wouldn't that travel? Tried to get fresh clams in the UK? Or competent crusty chewy bread? Why is that so tough? No market? No one insists on that kind of quality; that kind of freshness.
I once had lunch in a little eatery in Wales with some Egyptian guys. They wanted to look at the fish before they would order it. One guy poked the fish, said it wasn't fresh and didn't order it. That's telling 'em, though I don't think they won any friends that day.