Secret Pop

Apr 7, 2005

Something Fishy

I think I may be off seafood. I used to really love it. I was raised to believe it is a bigger treat than other things. There is a funny story about my mom going shopping with one of her Chinese friends (an eccentric lady who treated her dog like a person and who wore white kid gloves while driving -- and was also terrified of ever driving on the freeway and would only ever be able to get on and stay in the lane she had entered until it inevitably forced her to exit again), and her friend came bounding over with cans in hand saying, "Lili! Lili! Seafood Banquet! Seafood Banquet!" Apparently, there was a sale on cans of Seafood Banquet, and it was my mom's unfortunate task to have to break it to her friend that Seafood Banquet was cat food.

So I suppose it is a cliché part of being Chinese, but my family has a vast appreciation for seafood. Particularly shellfish. Particularly anything that requires a lot of work to get at and may possibly squirt fishy-smelling liquid all over your new green dress. I guess I used to be on board with this. But as I've gotten older, I've chewed enough aquatic things and had to buckle down to swallow them that I wonder if it's worth all the hype. I bought some baby octopus salad at Whole Foods on Tuesday, and I was really looking forward to eating it. It reminded me of restaurants in Naples where I would see people eating that dish, leisurely on their lengthy Italian lunch breaks, and I would want to go pick off their plates. I love tentacles and squiddy stuff. I really do. But for some reason, this particular batch was just fishy-tasting enough and the texture was mushy enough in places that I started thinking about bulging head globs and brain matter and gushy guts, and I could barely swallow what was in my mouth. I ended up shoving a good portion of it down the drain. And I had to wash twice to get the fish smell off my hands. I'll still eat sushi any day of the week. But I feel as if the field is narrowing. And it concerns me, because that used to be the opposite trend in my maturation. My tastes have only broadened as I've gotten older. To include spicy foods that were once not tolerable to me and cheesy things whose stink once put me off and meat so rare you wouldn't be remiss in telling it a bedtime story. I would be ashamed to tell my mother that I'm beginning to lose my affection for les fruits de mer. But I suppose it's possible she'll shrug and say, "More for me." Nothing will put a restaurant out of business faster than serving all-you-can-eat shellfish in a town where my mother lives or works. She is unstoppable. She will be responsible for the extinction of shrimp one day. Mark my words.

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