THE CUISINE SCENE

Brenda

Hill


 


1/1/09
The Cuisine Scene
Brenda Hill




Raw Fish


As a Southerner who grew up eating fish prepared the proper way – rolled in corn meal and/or flour and deep-fried until it’s crisp and tender – I had an aversion to sushi. I’ve never understood the western population’s love of raw fish. Even my son and grandson think it’s wonderful, and they’re normal people.

On the few occasions I accompanied them to have their favorites, I stuck to the tempura side-dishes. Raised on fried green tomatoes and okra, crispy fried veggies is heaven to me.

But raw fish? No way, especially after my experiences with Lutefisk, a favorite dish in Minnesota.

Years ago, my husband and I moved to his home town in northern Minnesota, and his mother, a tall, blonde Swede, couldn’t wait to introduce me to Lutefisk. When she said the name with her special Swedish lilt at the end of the word, it sounded delightful. And since I’m usually game to try new dishes, and especially not wanting to insult her, I agreed to sample this dish she seemed to think was so special. After all, I love fish.

Oh poor innocent me.

It turned out that lutefisk is cod soaked in lye. And if that isn’t bad enough, when the cook wants to serve it, s/he has to soak it for several days in cold water to remove the lye.

Sounded right tasty to me. 

But that wasn’t all. When served, the fish has a jelly-like substance. And, my mother in law nonchalantly informed me - as if I were going to dash out and prepare my own - when cleaning the kitchen after cooking the lutefisk, one must make sure the residue is scrubbed from all pots, pans, dishes, and utensils. 

In a panic, I tried to invent a few diseases that I could suddenly develop to avoid that dinner. But alas, I didn’t want to live my life as a lily-livered coward, so I threw back my shoulders, lifted my chin, and bravely marched to her house for dinner.

I have little memory of that evening. I think my brain took pity and blanked it out, but I must have tried it. What does comes to mind is the movie I saw when I was a child, Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, with Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr. He was a Marine and she a nun, and they were shipwrecked on a Pacific island during WW2. He, being a brave military man and the hero, caught fish, but they had to eat it raw. Even starving, she had a difficult time getting it down. But they survived and I did too. And I’ve stayed away from raw fish ever since– until now.

I’m finally going to do it. I’m tired of the chuckles from my family and the teasing from friends, so I’m going to square my shoulders, lift my chin, and try a sushi restaurant. But I’m taking my son along so that if I don’t like it, I can pawn it off on him.

I’ll let you know what happens.

Update!

To follow my adventure into sushi-land, click below: