Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Fish tale

I'm hesitant to blog this, because non-foodies are going to think that this blog has suddenly become All Food All The Time. It won't stay that way, I promise. Surely my life is fascinating in myriad other ways. Um, or not. But I like to pretend it is sometimes. Anyhow...

Recently we bought a couple of tins of smoked shellfish--one of mussels, one of oysters. They were on sale for 99 cents each, probably because no one was buying them. My thought was, well, shoot, there's got to be a recipe for this stuff out there somewhere.

There was.

A half recipe, made with neufchatel instead of cream cheese, then spread on little toast pieces and baked with cherry tomato halves on top, made a wickedly good appetizer.

Then I cooked a couple of whole catfish according to the "Gary Fooks' Chinese Sea Bass" recipe in The River Cottage Cookbook. It was weird how little they tasted like catfish. They had no muddy aftertaste (or, as the s.o. joked, "none of that characteristic PCB flavor"). It was either the ginger that was tucked inside the body cavity during the steaming, or maybe fish farming has finally succeeded in breeding the river out of the river cat. (Not sure that's a desirable thing.)

Anyway, thumbs up to Hugh F.-W., and/or to his friend Gary. The fish was served covered in oyster sauce and fresh herbs. My mother called just at the moment when I was pouring a drizzle of smoking-hot peanut oil over the entire dish to sizzle it. I let the phone ring. I really wanted to talk to my mother, and I knew it was her (not because I was expecting her call, but because I somehow always know when it's her), but the fish wouldn't wait.

She called back after dinner. (I knew she'd do that, too.) She and my stepdad had spent the holiday weekend in Philadelphia and New York City and were driving back to Ohio. I was pretty jealous until I remembered that I'd been in Savannah last week, which is almost as good. Almost.*

They also went hunting for pheasants somewhere out in the country, and came back with a coolerful of them. Mom's a crack shot. She's so petite** that I can't figure out how she withstands the recoil. I chalk it up as one of the great mysteries of life.

TV: All of the Ohio news tonight is food-related. In an Akron pizzeria, a guy was beaten severely because someone cut in front of him in line and then overheard him complaining about it on his cell phone. Elsewhere, in a school cafeteria, "a baked potato became a dangerous weapon." Welcome to my home state. You live it, you love it. Reach for my dinner and you'll draw back a nub! (I guess now I know where I got it from.)

* It's amazing what a large gap there is sometimes between "almost" and "totally."

** She wears size extra-small hip waders when she goes fly fishing. I didn't inherit her build. I didn't inherit her aim, either, if my tentative experiments with pellet guns and tin cans are any indication. I sucked at Girl Scout archery, too.