Trying to grow vegetables has many obstacles, none being as difficult as the always present garden slug. These sneaky little gastropods wander by night and eat the leaves and fruits of many plants. Once you have them, it is time to take quick action as they can be devastating in a short period of time. There are as many techniques to kill slugs as there are gardeners.
Having the problem myself, I consulted with my neighbour, who is a DOC employee, and I value his opinion. He promised me that even though I see him sneaking around his garden at 7 AM in the morning holding a bottle of beer, he is not drinking it, but is feeding it to his slugs. He promised me that slugs are all alcoholics and love beer. I was advised to put a plastic container with smooth sides, so they cant crawl out when drunk, in a hole close to the plants and fill it with cheap Kiwi beer, any Speight or Emerson would do, and the next morning you would find drowned drunken slugs by the dozen. Now, since my slugs are used to eating from the best Italian garden I argued that cheap Kiwi beer is not good enough for them and purchased some Peroni beer. Also plastic containers were not up to standard and glass was provided. After three days of feeding my slugs good beer I can come to one conclusion only – the more beer they drink, the more they eat, as I now have no Broccoli, Cabbage, Salad or Rocket left and have a lot of happy tipsy slugs.
I then remembered being a member of a Gardening group on Facebook and went researching. Soon I found a plethora of organic slug control remedies. The one I have opted for recommended blending chills, garlic and olive oil, sprayed on the leaves of the plants, which I duly did and will soon see what the effects on the slugs are. If these slugs have had any Italian influences in there lives, I would suspect they would compliment me on my the salad dressing, but comment on the shortage of enough salt and pepper, then continue ordering some red wine in stead of beer.
The simple things in life are more than often the best and I think this also applies to recipes. Even though it is white bait season, I have not been able to locate a site near Dunedin where one could forage whitebait. To satisfy my craving, I went to the local fresh fishmonger and was lucky to find some lovely fresh whitebait, at $120 per Kg I was hesitant to buy, but got a small portion anyway. I would be grateful if there is anybody close to Dunedin who could head me in the right direction regarding catching whitebait!
Make sure the white bait is dry by patting it with kitchen paper. Make a mixture of flour, salt and black pepper, mix it well and put it in a plastic bag with the white bait. Shake well to evenly cover the bait. In the mean time heat a pan with about 50 mm deep vegetable oil to medium / high heat while you taste the wine. Separate the bait from the flour by sifting the contents of the bag. Test the heat of the the oil by placing one fish in and it should sizzle. Now put the white bait in the hot oil in not too large portions – I did about 100 g at a time. Deep fry until light gold – about one minute. Place on a paper towel to drain the excess oil and serve immediately with lemon and fresh bread – do not forget the bottle of good wine. ENJOY!
Today I was alone and very busy, but also very hungry. So what do you do to get a quick, filling and delightful meal. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, ad thirty pieces of Paccheri pasta. While it is cooking, put a few spoons of Salsa al Pomodoro (Traditional Italian tomato sauce), something an Italian kitchen is never without, into a pan, ad a handful of caper berries, another hand of marinated black olives, one freshly chopped chili and two fillets of anchovies. While simmering slowly and you taste the quality of the red wine, adjust for salt and ad enough freshly ground black pepper. When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain the water and ad to the sauce. The sauce must be thick and not watery. Mix through and ad a handful of torn fresh basil. Grate some home made Romano or Parmigiano cheese over the top and make sure the second glass of red wine is full. ENJOY