My hands leaning on the bench either side of the wooden board, I looked down at it. It looked back at me, its single, bright, black eye unblinking.
Rounded nose, a good 18 inches long; this was undoubtedly a wild fish - a wolf of the sea - grown long and sleek, powered by its voracious appetite for young and smaller fish in the warm water around the shoreline. Greenish-black and silver scales clothed the once-powerful body that had spent its days prowling the surf, forcing through the breaking waves, riding the currents, hunting food to provide fuel for energy.
I picked up my filleting knife and started work on the line-caught sea bass, one of a boxful that had just been delivered from Cornwall, all of them tagged so they could be traced to the fisherman who caught them. I took my time, not wanting to give anything but my best work to this beautiful fish. As the flesh came away from the bone the aroma of ozone-laden sea air wafted upwards, a promise of the intense flavour that would reward the diner who had just ordered this simple but exquisite dish of pan fried sea bass fillet served on a bed of sliced tomatoes from Spain, sweet and drenched in sun-ripened flavour.