Friday, November 19, 2004

Something Smells Fishy

My dad sent me an email about the box of smoked salmon I sent my mom through the post. I can just hear his canto-english staccato in his words: "Sheeza feesh nut," He adds, "She hasn't open-ed yet, she like to lok at it."

Oh mom. I can see her nipping at the bubblewrap enevelope with fingers until, at long last, she pulls out the boxed salmon and holds it out gleefully before her, arms outstretched and lips curled from ear to ear. She'll give a gutteral growl, "MMM!" while smacking her lips loudly. You see, my mom is most definitely a "fish nut." She'll salivate when she sees them floating around on tv shows like "The Nature of Things" and talk about all the ways she would cook 'em while David Suzuki is telling us about the ecological problems of over-fishing. She'd even salivate if she saw dead fish floating around a dock, stewing in the summer heat. I'm serious. I think if I took her to Vancouver's aquarium she's try to take one of those Amazonian monster-fish home with her, they're so big . . .

Watching her eat fish is fun. There's something so wonderfully disgusting but fascinating at the same time about watching her savour its white soggy meat and suck on its bones like Tolkien's Gollum. The worst part, or best part according to her, is when she munches on the fish head she saves for last. "It's your loss," she'll say while sucking on the white visionless ocular mass. When she bites the eyeball, it makes such a horrendous crunching-squishing sound, no human ear was ever meant to hear it.

Why she loves fish is curious. Why anyone would like it as much as she does is beyond me. Fish are foul. Their putrescent smell that is the same as rotting garbage summons memories of decaying worms and fish glued to the burning hot fishing dock, diseased-looking fish in cloudy-grey tanks in Chinatown, summers in the East coast and reeking tubfuls of shells and crab carcasses we would gather from the shoreline. It's a smell I hate; a smell she adores. I believe it's a trend of hers, this affinty for putrid smells, because she also loves durian, a large spiky fruit the stench of which she once lovingly described to me as "cat poo." Yum, mom.

I don't hate fish, but I do hate seafood (sushi is an exception). People often look shocked when I tell them this, especially when I'm now living on the West Coast. Unknowingly, friends have set me off to B.C. saying, "Take advantage of the seafood while you're out there." I have to smile weakly and nod like I'm happy about it every time. I often wonder how people can eat things that look so much like insects. Could it be the taste that overrides the look, texture, and smell of them? After years of being the reason why my family can't order seafood at restaurants, I have tried SO hard to enjoy it. Once, my aunt in Vancouver served me a huge plate of giant crabs at her house. I was so set to brave it out, to face my fears . . . Surely there's something amazing about these things, what with their harmless spiny pincers, bug-like exoskeleton, and appendages of a giant tarantula... Good god! How can anyone stomach this? My aunt began ripping off a crab's arm and plopped it on my plate. Smiling in an attempt to keep myself from retching, I placed a piece in my mouth. It was warm. soft. sickeningly sweet. . . and definitely disgusting.
Thus ended my failed conversion. Seafood simply isn't for me!

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