Saturday, May 24, 2008

The F Word Post

In a sort of reverse tag situation I've imagined that I've been tagged by Darwin. She wrote another post about flowers and I imagined that she'd tagged me to write a post about something that begins with F.

I don't think this game will rival Grand Tag Auto but it's got potential, the beauty is that anyone can take it forward. You can pretend that I tagged you and write a post about anything that's vaguely related to anything I've ever blogged about. Choose your subject and write. You'll need a blog or ownership of a newspaper or similar publication. Or you'll need the ability to hack into a newspaper's computer system and change its copy, as if that could happen these days.

My F word post is about fish. They're weird things these fish. I was watching a fascinating documentary about China the other day and the presenter called them "fishes". This confused me as I've always though that the plural is "fish". Perhaps it's boths and things have changed since I was at school.

Either way I'm not a fan. Of fish that is. I like China, though not the ornamental kind. I don't hate fish, just that I'm nowhere near being a paid up member, with posters on my bedroom wall, of the fish fan club. Give me a choice of fish or meat and it'll be a good chunk of the red stuff every time. If I'm in a restaurant the fish section of the menu will be given a cursory glance, then I'll make my way to the meaty stuff, like meat.

My general demeanour towards fish is very different in England compared to how it is in Sri Lanka. Unsurprising really as in SL we have fish of all sorts coming at us from all angles and all of it tastes pretty good. Stick me in that "choose your own fish and we'll cook it however you want it done" place in the Cinammon Grand, or Colombo Plaza or whatever it's called these days and I'm happy as a fish in water. Yes, I can slum it with the best of them. It's still the Oberoi to me anyway.

Give me a fish curry and I'll happily devour it with gusto, as long as there's rice or something carby with it of course. I'll pop into a fish and chip shop here in England and tuck into a cod and chips with mushy peas like a native. I'll bung four fish fingers (Birds Eye of course) on some fresh white bread, smother them with Heinz tomato ketchup and chuck the lot down my gullet as if I'm a competitor in the food olympics, the fish finger sandwich section, and I've got through to the final.

So I will eat the stuff, I'll enjoy it, I'll just choose meat over fish any day. Shellfish is a different matter. Prawns, crab and lobster will often be found rising to the top of my pecking order, beating chicken, beef or any other meat into a poor fourth place. But shellfish has a place all of its own for me, a place in that "delicacy" section of my mind. Everyone loves a prawn, except my old friend Amanda, I could never figure out why but she just didn't like them.

Foody types will no doubt be up in arms at this but I can't find the taste in fish. Maybe the flavours are far too subtle for my unrefined palate, maybe I'm so used to strong flavours that my taste buds need to be smacked round their face with a big mallet rather than tickled with the lightest of feathers, not that fish have feathers.

The little taste I get from most fish is just that fishy taste, which is great when I add some maldive fish to more or less every Sri Lankan dish I attempt to cook, but not so welcome when I'm tucking into a hearty dinner. A piece of cod just tastes white and watery to me, the texture's quite pleasant but so is the feel of writing with a ball point pen on a piece of rubber, that doesn't mean I have to eat pens or rubber for dinner.

Whenever I go to the Beach Wadiya and tuck into the finest of fishy fare, it's the prawns that I love beyond a level of love that's legal in many East European countries. The big slab of fish, done in that mixture of ingredients that is actually making my mouth water as I think of it, just tastes of the ingredients and a bit of a fishy background taste. The ingredients are a bit special, but I'd prefer them stuck in a pot with a chicken or a cow anyday.

The effort to pleasure ratio is way too high for most fish too. I was out at a restaurant with the chaps in my covers band the other night. It was a great evening. We chatted, (mostly music related stuff), we drank (within the legal limits that applied to our respective modes of transport) and we ate (like Kings).

Our lead guitarist ordered steak tartare, a fascinating dish if ever there was one. I took one look at it and turned my nose up. If it were mine I'd have sent it back immediately for being way too rare, it hardly looked cooked at all. The rest of us tucked into our choices all happy and merry. But the bassist, as one would expect from one of that club, ate fish. I watched as he spent what seemed like hours deftly extracting the tiny bits of flesh from the thousands of bones that came with it.

As I savoured my liver, bacon and mash I wondered quietly to myself why the average fish needs all those bones anyway. It's not like they do anything all day apart from swimming around a bit. I'm a fairly crap swimmer but the little knowledge of swimming I have tells me that you're supposed to relax your body and go all floppy, so surely bones can't help at all.

Once we'd all finished our meal I surveyed the scene, before the waiter had cleared it. There were two totally clean plates; mine and the lead guitarist's. Of course you'd expect that from me. Two more plates were clean apart from a tiny bit of steak bone. The bassist's plate looked like a Colombo nightclub that's just held a birthday bash for Mervyn Silva while the Rupavahini staff were on an adjacent table. There was debris everywhere and I fail to see how he could have enjoyed it.

All those little, big and medium bones were everywhere and for what? A bit of tasteless white fish. Pah, I thought, in my best Bertie Wooster tone. And I meant it. That's bassists for you.

There you have it.





Bea said...

I loathe any fishy tasting fish, and oily fish makes me vomit. maldive fish was the bain of my existance in Sri Lanka. What is the point of it? Many a good dish perfectly ruined!

I can manage British chip shop fish, which tells me that it really can't have any fish flavour at all. Not sure anyone wanted to hear me on an anti fish rant - so sorry folks but thats how it is.

T said...

im so glad im home cuz now i can eat all the fresh fish i want instead of just sashimi or some frozen crap. and of course the sea food!!

Tabitha said...

People should read this.