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Whoo-hoo!  Fish soup with Shrunken Woman garnish
internet/Rus Pishnery
internet/Rus Pishnery

It’s still cold outside so last weekend Ursula and I decided to pack up the VW bus and head out to the coast for the annual Bouillabaisse-Palooza! Festival held on fabulous Club Isabella Terra Verde Cotta del Sol Island. Sure it was Daytona 500 weekend but it gave me a chance to wear my tie-dyed T-shirt that Ursula won’t let me wear when we go to the local beach.

Besides top-notch entertainment provided by Miley Cyrus, Eddie Money and Hootie & the Blowfish, the fest featured fish soup from around the globe and we partied like there was no tomorrow.

What we were surprised to learn was that Bouillabaisse is not alone in the world of fish soup. All seafarer’s soup originated when fisherman used up stuff from the catch of the day that they couldn’t sell. It doesn’t matter where in the world; they all make it the same way, except that each version has a unique touch that makes it stand out from the rest.

Bouillabaisse traces its roots to the port city of Marseille, France. Classic Bouillabaisse uses at least five different kinds of seafood, some recipes throw in seven or eight. Things like sea robin, turbot, monkfish, mussels and crab find their way in to the pot to simmer. But what sets Bouillabaisse apart from the rest is the use of saffron threads and Provencal herbs.

Cioppino is a fish stew that originated in San Francisco. It is typically a combo of shell fish, crab, shrimp, scallops, mussels along with squid and fish. Cioppino goes a tad heavier on the tomatoes and sticks to Italian herbs, basil, oregano and parsley.

Fisherman’s soup or Halaszle is an Eastern European version that uses spicy Hungarian paprika and utilizes fish more than shellfish. The thing with Halaszle is its use of court bouillon. This stuff is nothing more than water, white wine, celery, carrot, onion a bay leaf and thyme with a lemon slice that is boiled then strained. It packs some nice flavor.

Portuguese fish Stew is a bit gutsier than the rest. It adds cabbage and chorizo sausage to kick up the flavor and the results are great.

Moqueca is a Brazilian fish stew using the usual suspects from the sea but also incorporating coconut milk, palm oil and cilantro. It is also simmered in a terra cotta pot and besides shrimp and stuff you may find shark, swordfish or piranha in it.

If you try out any of these delicious soups always grill a thick slab or two of rustic garlic bread sprinkled with a dash of olive oil, or serve them over rice.

The recipes are too good to pass up so I have written a companion article called “Highlights from Bouillabaisse-Palooza!” that you can refer to. And as always, check out the slideshows and videos for even more depth to this Palooza madness.

So long everybody.

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