Monday, December 15, 2008

a departure

Greetings! I'm calling this post "a departure" because I fear that it may be a departure from my usual lovely thoughts. Please know, however, that the original idea which I thought would lead to a delightful "something new" was deeply rooted in only the loveliest of intentions.

The other day, P and I were visiting our favorite local market and oohing and ahhing over their fish counter. In the past, their interesting selection has inspired me to cook new fish, and try out new techniques. On this particular day, I saw several silvery trout laid out on the ice among the various filets and shellfish. I decided that since I am really a true cook now, who respects and appreciates food and where it comes from, that cooking up a whole fish would yield a beautiful and satisfying meal. Something that looked like this or, better yet, this.

As scheduling would have it, P had to go out of town, so I was left to prepare my fish by myself this evening. What an opportunity! I thought. I can perfect my whole fish roasting technique and impress my husband when he returns from his trip! I decided to cook my fish en papillote stuff it with fresh herbs from the AeroGarden, splash it with some white wine, olive oil, and sprinkle S&P.

I gleefully picked my neat paper package of trout from the fridge, and prepared to rinse it and get cooking. I unrolled the paper and --

Good God. I couldn't for the life of me bring myself to touch the fish. It's eyes! Its tiny teeth! I steeled myself, reached over to pick it up, promptly dropped it. Squealed. Poked it with one finger. Closed my eyes. Called a friend who distracted me while I finally got it rinsed and back onto the parchment paper.

There! Hard part over. The fish was filleted and open so now was unable to gaze into its eyes as I laid out the various herbs, lemon, S&P, wine, olive oil. I realized I had a few more steps I needed to do so should probably stash the fish in the fridge while I finished up. Trouble was, the fridge was kind of full, and I precariously perched the pan with my fish on the bottom shelf, only to have it suddenly slide out the open door and land fish first on the floor. Gaaaah! The parchement paper covered the body, but his little fishy head was peeking out at me accusingly, and at an odd angle from under the refridgerator.

Quick text to Pete:
Call when you can. There has been an incident with the fish.

Well, that's it, I thought. End of fish fight. But, no. That would be a waste and counter to the whole impetus behind the idea of cooking a whole fish to appreciate where my food comes from yadda yadda yadda. If I simply threw out the fish, that would be a horrible waste. I decided to just give him another quick rinse and start again.

Unfortunately (unfortunately for the fish), when I went to shower him off, those accusing eyes were staring at me. I kept thinking I heard him making little gurgling noises. So, I did the only thing there was to do: I cut his head off. Ew ew ew. There is now a fish head in a plastic bag hanging from the doorknob of my front door (See? Not lovely).

Now, confronted with the more familiar looking headless version of trout, I reassembled my ingredients, drizzled with some wine (then poured a glass for myself), tied up the parchment and popped it in the oven.

I must say, this fish is delicious. It's so summery and Mediterranean from the rosemary/thyme/lemon. Most importantly, it is not looking at me. No, wait -- most importantly, I did not waste my fish and I now feel I have fufilled my need to demonstrate my accountability for what I eat. Sometimes a fillet is just fine.

Back to lovely next time.


JuneBug said...

Funny. Very funny post. Summery fish? Very lovely! I myself have only attempted whole fish once, and with the support of a friend (asian family dinner steamed ginger soy highly reccommended). The fish barely fit in the steamer and so we cut off it's tail lest we lose the authenticness of the head...

Dan said...

Cooking an entire fish is on my list of things to do; I plan to pack the while thing in salt.

I did buy a lovely - and tasty - rabbit from Savenors recently.

Pucho V said...

Thank God you didn't try to cook rabbit, L. I hope the head is not hanging from the door knob when I get back.

L said...

I don't think it was really the head that was the problem, so much as the fact that it was a fish. Fish are kind of freaky. I don't know though. I've eaten head on fish before.

Did the rabbit have a head? There is an intriguing looking (and rather large)blue hare waiting to be bought from the Savenor's in Cambridge...

Courtney said...

This might win funniest post of 2008. So funny.

For the sake of full disclosure, though, I would have poured the glass for myself MUCH earlier in that entire process.

Anonymous said...

Iwonder if it's a fish I met?

Lucca Brazzi

BurlingtonBride said...

too freakin' funny! thanks for your honesty and humor. that made my day.