Alive without breath;
as cold as death;
never thirsting, ever drinking;
clad in mail, never clinking.
Drowns on dry land,
thinks an island
is a mountain;
thinks a fountain is a puff of air.
So sleek, so fair!
What a joy to meet!
We only wish
to catch a fish,
so juicy-sweet!' (811)
Gollum is fanatic about fish: it is the food source most significant to his life. The riddle above with its detail of the exterior of the fish, "clad in mail, never clinking [...] so sleek, so fair!" shows the true appreciation and consideration Gollum has for them. His love of fish influences his choice of dwelling in The Hobbit, he sings about them when he, Frodo and Sam starve on their way to Mount Doom; he was fishing on the fateful day -his last as Sméagol - he first spotted the ring. His hunger for them is insatiable and he does not waste time bothering to cook or prepare them, for he does not need to. Any characteristics of civilisation he once had were obsolete when he found his precious, and as such he degenerated from them.
For those readers for whom biting the head off a freshly caught fish is not quite to their taste, with time on their hands and no magical rings to fall powerless to, I have created the following recipe.
- One portion of frozen flaky fish - cod, salmon or trout all work well.
- Half a ripe lemon (or 3tbsp lemon juice)
- Knob of butter
- 1/2 thumb-sized piece of ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped parsley
- Small sprinkling of ground chilli (optional)
- 1/2 cup of green beans
- 1/2 cup of sweetcorn
- 1/3 cup of rice
- 1/2 cube of vegetable stock
- Preheat your oven to 200˚C
- Cut a piece of tinfoil or baking parchment to cover a standard size oven tray. On it, place the fish in the middle and spread the knob of butter over the top of it.
- Finely grate the ginger and press on top of the butter, do the same with the chilli and parsley.
- Slice up the lemon and place along the top of the fish.
- Take the two longest sides of foil/paper and bring them to the middle over the fish. Fold over one way twice. Fold over each short side twice, bringing them towards the middle of the tray (towards the fish). You have now enveloped your fish. Pop in the oven to bake.
- Bring a pan of water to the boil. First stir in the vegetable stock cube, and when dissolved, add the rice. Leave to simmer.
- When the rice is half done top up the water in the pan. Stream the beans and sweetcorn for approx 6 minutes.
- Serve the drained rice and vegetables on a plate. Open the envelope - the fish should be paler than before, flaky and moist. Discard the lemons and serve.
- J. R. R. Tolkien (1954) The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers London: HarperCollins (2008) pp. 811
- Image coursesy of fantasy-fiction.com (2013) http://fantasy-faction.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/gollum-eating-fish.jpg