Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A fish story

I cooked fish last night.  This is a major accomplishment.  I understand if it's no big deal to you, but I have never cooked fish and have barely cooked any meat at all in 17 years, so this was a BIG FREAKIN' DEAL to me.  And it turned out Great!  Even Coyote ate some corn-breaded cod.  It took a minute to get my mind around the meat + side dish = menu ensemble that characterizes the meat-ed meal.  This is the reverse of the mind warp non-vegetarians have to undergo to understand the complete vegetarian meal.  They get stuck in meat + side and all they can imagine that we eat is sides.  Sides and more sides and they can't figure out how we can be healthy eating nothing but corn and over-cooked green beans with a bun.  Which we don't.  We eat stews and soups and frittata and sautes and tempeh burgers and burritos and beans with rice or cornbread....etc... etc. We vegetarians eat a wider variety and more creative menu that those trapped in the clutches of the cults of meat-eating.  So I underwent the paradigm shift in the opposite direction last night.  And we had a side of home grown fries.  Fish and chips.

I used to cook meat, for about 1 year when I was first married to my first husband.  You cannot imagine the crazy stuff I did back then.  I did this thing where I MADE HIS LUNCHES!  I found it slightly humiliating, but I was 18 and was doing what my mother would do, my mother who's cultural heritage development has been seriously delayed by traditional values.  Obviously, a good, virtuous wife makes her husband's lunches.  It says so in Proverbs.  So I made him 2 lunches a day for his 16 hour cannery shifts.  And I felt really shitty about it.  During this time, Jack in the Box was having its e-coli issues and so when I made the burritos, which had to include beef, OBVIOUSLY, I burnt the hell out of that beef.  It was mostly just beef char that I scraped in to his burritos.  And, scared of meat as I was, that's how I cooked everything.  Fresh deer meat (we lived in various parts of Alaska during this time) was boiled then broiled in butter.  Turkey was basted in one complete pound of butter... although that one was good.  How could it not be?

I never liked the cooking of meat.  My family raised our own beef.  I bottled fed them every morning before and after school and then I was compelled to eat my pets.  There is some boundary that gets betrayed when we get that close to animals and then eat them.  It's like you eating Fido for dinner with your brother (who never liked Fido all that much) with a piece of Fido on his fork, making it make barking sounds.  It would be like this: on a Saturday my mother would come in to my room, close all the curtains and sit on me.  I would hear the shots, scream.  And then I would have to stay in my room until the butcher truck left.  Because my parents knew, and knew they did, that if I got a whiff of this conspiracy, I would chain myself to my beloved steer and hell no, I would not go.  You'll have to shoot me first.  This is why I now have a milk cow.  I love cows, but I'm not eating my own.  Having a milk cow has it's own special heart aches I've since learned.

I was also not allowed in the kitchen during the cooking of meat.  While this did nothing to prepare me for the life of a new and virtuous wife, it did make dinner less dramatic.  A Thanksgiving was seriously marred by my trauma when I cross the kitchen while the turkey neck was being exhumed.  Imagine my joy when we moved to South Carolina and THAT's what was for Thanksgiving dinner at the home we were invited to.

I was saved from the seemingly inevitable destiny of  meat by my brother's thoughtful Christmas gift when I was 19: Molly Katzen's magnum opus The Moosewood Cookbook.  This book certainly contains some awful recipes.  The more expensive the ingredients, the worse she messes it up.  But it's also got my staples.  I've used it so much, it fell apart and is now housed in a three ring binder.  It opened my mind to a new life, a life without bloody patties and mystery hotdogs. I learned to cook from this book.  I learned to make my own lasagna sauce and my own enchilada sauce.  This book became my Bible.  So when I ate enchiladas at someone's house a few years ago, I begged her for her sauce recipe and the entire table dropped it's collective jaw.  Recipe? For enchilada sauce?  It comes in a can, lady.  A can.  We open CANS of sauce.  Wow.  Thanks to Ms. Katzen, I didn't even know enchilada sauce existed.  And now I've shaved over an hour of cooking time off enchiladas!  And all 'cuz I asked for a recipe.

Unfortunately my brother and Ms. Katzen were unable to save me from making my husband's lunches.  I was too immature yet to let myself not do that. I imagine I would have been trapped in the life of the Virtuous mother-y wife for eternity if he hadn't left me.

That was the thing that stuck in my craw the worst.  I wailed, "AND I MADE HIS EFFING LUNCHES!  HIS LUNCHES!  THE HUMILIATION!  AUGHGGHGHGH!"  Despite being played a fool, being cheated on, being abandoned suddenly, it's the lunches that dug at me the most.  THE EFFING LUNCHES.  I burnt meat for that ingrate.  Only once have I made lunch for a man since (excluding in a professional capacity as a pizza cook), and it resulted in lots of tears and anger.  And long-suffering Huck just asked me not to ever do it again.

That's why I don't put Huck's laundry away.  Because if he ever betrayed me, which he doesn't look like he's going to but if I've learned one thing in my not-so-short life it's that people can really surprise you when you least expect it, and that you can't REALLY know anyone.  So, as far as I can tell, he's not going to up and leave all of a sudden, but if he did, it would be putting away his laundry that would make any betrayal even worse.  I've explained this to him.  And he has agreeably accepted the fact.

And that is the story of how I cooked my fish last night.


  1. I make lunches for my girlfriend. Don't feel oppressed.

  2. This is excellent. Perhaps next time a nice rare piece of sushi grade tuna is in order.



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