Monday, September 7, 2009

Fish, it's a mystery

This weekend I helped my dad in the kitchen.
He invited over friends for dinner, offering fish as a main course. I was home for the weekend, and what-do-ya-know he had an extra fish. I quickly graced my parents with my presence for another night. Offering my dad to help out in the kitchen just a few hours before the meal is really taking the easy way out. If my mom cooks daily in 20 minute sprints of cooking fervor, my dad goes at it like a marathon runner. A marathon runner on anabolic amphetamines hurdling up a train through the aisle. At least a week in advance, he lays out the plan and follows it to the t. It's always a set menu with a fancy main. This time it was a grilled fish. Not fancy, you're thinking, ain't cha? Well you should get the context.

My mom can't stand fish's fishy smell. She'll enjoy eating a fish, providing it's not too sea'ish. But preparing a fish at home? Having a fresh fish in the house and then let its aroma spread through the house? Dear lord, no. That's why I can only remember once before that we had fish at home. It was a test drive, never to be repeated.

Perhaps that's part of the reason i didn't really like fish or seafood until the age of 21. I used to say "why bother spending money on fish and seafood when you can suck on a fisherman's net for free?". I changed my mind one faithful day in the Porto Santo Stefano, Italy. I was there with my parents, and we entered a restaurant. Always one to try new things at least once, i was not deterred by the fact that it was a seafood fish critters place. My parents picking up the tab also helped. We did have one small problem, though. Being a small local restaurant, there were no English menu. How do we order? We started out with waving our arms stuttering and mumbling randomly, but were quickly saved by the waitress. She found a way to communicate we were in good hands and she will take care of us. And care she did. When the forth course arrived, we started to get a bit distressed - how much to go? Give us a hint, a clue, a warning. I think there were about 8 dishes of sea stuff in any form you can imagine. And by god, I loved it! Even the tiny deep fried fish - heads and all. I've been a fish-avore since.

The dish my dad made wasn't very complex. It was a pre-cleaned and open fish - we call it Musar and I think it is Meagre in English. Using just chopped coriander, garlic, butter and lemon juice, it's a simple and quick main course. Providing the slaughtering part is done for you, that is. Take the fish, rub it inside and out with all of the goodness I just mentioned, and stick it in the oven for 20 minutes. That's all.

Sorry there's no picture of the end product. By the time it was ready, I was totaly invested in digestion.

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