Sunday, October 22, 2006

Perhaps why I try eating fish after 7 years

In Kitchen Confidential (which I read, once, while in culinary school, and reread--vastly preferring it this time--after working in kitchens for a year), Anthony Bourdain writes:

"We went on. Calling for more, more, Phillipe telling the chef, in halting Japanese, that we were ready for anything he had--we wanted his choice, give us your best shot, motherfucker (though I'm sure he phrased it more elegantly). The other customers began to melt away, and our hosts, the chef joined by an assistant now, seemed impresed with our zeal, the blissed-out looks on our faces, our endless capacity for more, more, more....Our sakes were refilled, the chef openly smiling now. These crazy gaijin wanted it all, baby! The best course yet arrived: a quickly grilled, halved fish head. The chef watched us, curious, I imagined, to see how we'd deal with this new development.

It was unbelievable: every crevice, every scrap of this sweet, delicate dorade or Chilean pompano had responded differently to the heat of the grill. From the fully cooked remnant of body behind the head to the crispy skin and cartilage, the tender, translucently rare cheeks, it was a mosaic of distinct flavors and textures. And the eye! Oh yeah! We dug out the orbs, slurped down the gelatinous mater behind it, deep in the socket, we gnawed the eyeball down to a hard white core. When we were done with this collage of good stuff, when we'd fully picked over every tiny flake and scrap, there was nothing left but teeth and a few bones."

Sure, there's some amount of horror in reading this (fisheye? come on), but at the same time there's something beautiful about the analysis of taste, of eating. If I'm lucky I can do that with a dessert (more oftne than not)...but there's a lot more world out there I've never tasted and I think it's time for some slight reckoning.

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