Something fishy

July 23, 2004

I love seafood. I always have, but from what I’ve read lately eating seafood is riskier than bungee jumping and has at least as many bad long-term effects as smoking–and not just any smoking, but smoking those really dark cigarettes that are basically just rolls of tar paper with a little bit of tobacco put in for flavor. Tuna is full of mercury, swordfish is full of vanadium, grouper is full of mercury, vanadium, and it’s endangered, sushi gives you intestinal worms (or, if it’s fugu, will make your heart stop in 24 hours), oysters shouldn’t be eaten in months without an "R" in them, clams shouldn’t be eaten during red tides, and limpets shouldn’t be eaten in months without a "K" in them. Any day now I’m expecting to sit down in a restaurant, order the Captain Nemo Platter, and have the waiter say, "Excellent choice. Would you please sign this waiver?"

But I still love seafood. Nothing will convince me to give it up, not even the fact that the worst meal I ever had was a seafood meal. Before I go any further I have to say two things. The first is, my father’s not a bad cook. I honestly never went hungry any time he did the cooking…except the night he decided to make a seafood feast. The second thing I have to say is, it could not possibly have been as bad as I remember. My father’s gotten a lot of grief over the years, all of it from me, for trying to do something nice and ending up with a meal that, even though he admits it wasn’t good, could not have been nearly as bad as it’s become in repeated tellings by me. Repetition has somehow created a patina of exaggerated badness, much like the yellow skin over the dark green liquid with bits of old tire floating in it that was served to me as "clam chowder". And even if it was that bad it couldn’t have been my father’s fault. My mother was in Florida, and he said, "Why should she get to have all the good seafood?" Well, this was years before stores started flying in fresh seafood every day. If you think eating seafood is risky now, living in a landlocked area twenty-five years ago the only seafood you could get either came in a can or almost certainly had spent one night in the back of a truck in Hahira before finally being delivered to a warehouse where it sat for another night before being unpacked in the back parking lot, hosed off, and thrown on ice.

In addition to the clam chowder which could have passed as a treatment for athlete’s foot, my father made fried oysters that were slimy. But then oysters are always slimy no matter how you prepare them, even during months that have an "R" in them. The only problem is these oysters came out of a jar, and I’m almost certain they spent two nights in Hahira. Fortunately it wasn’t all seafood. He also served stuffed crab shells. These haven’t changed over the years. They still come ready-made in a cardboard box from the freezer section, and are guaranteed to contain absolutely no crab meat. The stuffing is made from bread crumbs, bell peppers, and two teaspoons of potted meat. The crab meat from the shells is packed in plastic containers and sold for six bucks an ounce at the seafood counter. Or you can go with the cheaper alternative, the bright red and white meat that comes in your California roll in sushi restaurants, which doesn’t come from crabs but from "krabs". But I digress. I hope this finally sets the record straight about my father’s one foray into the world of seafood preparation. But even though I know it wasn’t really as bad as I remember I prefer to keep remembering it that way. It makes the seafood I get in restaurants seem much safer by comparison.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

One Liners

A jumper cable walks into a bar. The bartender says "I’ll serve you, but don’t start anything."

A sandwich walks into a bar. The bartender says, "Sorry we don’t serve food in here."

Two antennas meet on a roof, fall in love and get married. The ceremony wasn’t much but the reception was great.

Two cannibals are eating a clown. One says to the other: "Does this taste funny to you?"

Patient: "Doc, I can’t stop singing ‘The Green, Green Grass of Home."
Doctor: "That sounds like "Tom Jones syndrome"
Patient: "Is it common?"
Doctor: "It’s not unusual."

Two hydrogen atoms walk into a bar. One says, "I’ve lost my electron." The other says, "Are you sure?" The first replies, "Yes, I’m positive…"

Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly; but when they lit a fire in the craft, it sank, proving once and for all that you can’t have your kayak and heat it too.

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