I hate seafood. Even though I’m told, “It’s good for you, it’s low fat, it’s brain food,” I just can’t stand it. The taste, the smell (don’t even try to convince me that if it’s fresh it has no smell), the look — the whole thing. When it comes to seafood, I’ll skip straight to dessert.
Full disclosure. Up until my appetite changed about a year ago (long story), I used to enjoy one — very limited — kind of seafood. I used to love tuna (with celery, mayo, and relish) on rye with a Diet Coke. Almost every day for decades, from working at New York ad agencies through the years writing for an LA beauty company (and even after that), it was my lunch of choice. It didn’t surprise me when a former colleague told me that, in his experience, it was what all writers had for lunch. Go figure.
Anyway, we can now call me a seafood-free zone. (Sharp-eyed readers of my novel, The Mermaid Mahjong Circle — A Fairy Tale for Women, will note that one of the main characters also hates seafood. Art imitating life. And a shameless plug.)
But. I fully recognize how healthy the right kind of fish can be, particularly salmon. And I fully recognize how much B. loves salmon, particularly in sushi; however, with the limited number of places we go these days in order to remain safe (the supermarket once a week), B.’s options for excellent sushi are not great. So, salmon it is. And I, Ms. Don’t-Get-That-Fish-Anywhere-Near-Me, am now the preparer of said salmon.
But wait, you ask, if you hate it, why can’t B. prepare it himself? He can and has offered to do so many times. The problem is that Ms. Don’t-Get-That Fish-Anywhere-Near-Me coexists in the same body as Ms. It’s-My-Kitchen-and-I-Need-to-Be-in-Control. So there you go — a classic battle of the wits. On one side, me. On the other side, also me.
I’ve figured out the almost ballet-like moves it takes for me to remove the salmon filets from their plastic-bag-and-butcher-paper wrapping without touching either (not easy). Then, tongs to get them onto the pan, and into the oven they go to broil for 20 minutes. Simple as that. Except for the, shall we say, aroma. I’ve got the oven door shut (even on broil), the oven fan on (the highest setting), and the door leading to the other half of the apartment closed, but still the aroma remains for a while. Good times.
Yesterday’s salmon fiasco brought me to new heights (literally) of discomfort. Stay with me here. Take pan out of oven, check. Slide spatula under first filet to loosen it from the skin on the bottom (even writing those words makes me feel just a wee bit ill), check. Place onto platter to cool, check. Repeat with filet number two. Uh, not so much.
Because somehow in my zest to loosen the second piece from the skin below it (OMG, again?), the salmon decided to go back to its roots and leapt (not out of the water, but off of the spatula). Yup. So now, the only thing worse than dealing with salmon from pan to platter was dealing with it as it flew through the air and hovered dangerously close to my face (are you kidding me here?) before landing, thankfully, on the far counter. Not so thankfully, though, it landed bottom side up, requiring flipping as well as spearing.
Now it was personal. Just me and the fish (very Captain Ahab, although that one didn’t work out so well). In the words of Lady Macbeth, I reminded myself to screw my courage to the sticking place — and skewered that piece of salmon through the middle with a fork, settling it with a flick of the wrist, right side up, onto its platter to cool. Final score: Salmon 0, Moi 2.
All this to say that next time you’re at our place for dinner (and one day, before too long, hopefully we will be eating dinner together again), expect brisket (maybe), roast chicken (possibly), or pasta (most likely). Seafood will most definitely be off the table. Happy faces (especially mine) will be around it. And we’ll toast to good friends (in person) once again.
Talk about a lure.
©2021 Claudia Grossman