My current budget (I keep saying that as though it were temporary, but it's been four years now. Maybe I just ought to embrace it.) does not allow me to buy fish very often. Canned tuna is not fish. There are seven people in my family and I have to stretch the meat part of the meal with beans or rice. Once a month, however, I buy a bag of frozen talipia fillets. On my last shopping trip, I somehow picked up the bag of whole talipia. I didn't realize it until I pulled it out to thaw for last night's meal.
It had eyes.
Now, I'm an admitted carnivore. I love meat, all kinds. I like rare steak, cook whole chickens, and have been known to eat duck or rabbit. I don't get caught up in the "Bambi" trap and I want some products tested on animals that aren't human before I take the pill.
But when I pulled out dinner and it was looking at me, my willpower just about broke.
I had no idea what to do with this thing, so I called my sister. She is the chefiest person I know--and I like her so I'll take any excuse to call.
She didn't know what to do with it.
Her husband has been a butcher for twenty years and has been known to fish.
"First you'll need to pull the head backwards toward the spine."
WHAT?? You want me to rip the head off? There is no way I can do this!
I paced the kitchen, hoping for another option, but someone had to get that head off the fish. I shook my hands nervously--like some kind of hyper jazz hands move. Then, I clenched them into determined fists and returned to the sink. I closed my eyes and started to peel the head back from the spine.
and my will faltered. Opening one eye, I saw the gills spreading and the fish's eyes seemed to be widening with the shock of being beheaded. I could almost hear it hollering, "Ahh! What . . . are . . . you . . . doing?" I refused to be cowed by a stupid fish so I just jerked and off popped the head. Shivers ran up my spine and my shoulders quaked. Taking a moment to indulge my gag reflex, I then wrapped the head in wax paper and sent it next door to the neighbor's cat. I don't know if cats really do like fish heads, but they always do in the cartoons.
Getting back to the task, I figured I could deal with the headless fish. I tried to follow the instructions my brother-in-law had given, but it was an utter mess. My knife was too dull, the bones were too sharp and my energy for this project was completely depleted.
We had pancakes for dinner.
The neighbor's cats are my new best friends.