Boulder writer, food historian and literary cookbook author looks back on her first tastes authentic Asian food. And for the record, I’m glad that she did not eat the shark’s fin — whose harvesting is an incredibly appalling fishing practice.
“Fish Stick Girl Meets Rock Fish and Dung of the Sea” by Karen Albright Lin
I was born in the land of fish sticks, a land-locked meat eater from Kansas City, Missouri. To be sure, they are breaded and over-cooked, mystery pulp-injected hush puppies, fish in name only. But 27 years ago, when I first married my Taiwanese husband, they seemed more appetizing than the Rock Cod he placed before me for the first time.
The aroma of fermented black beans registered MSG on my olfactory meter as Wen placed saucy, feng shui-friendly dishes on the lazy Susan. I marveled at his culinary success until that last platter came, a fully intact fish, the length of my thigh, eyes braised to milky white, smothered in brown sauce. It eyed me resentfully. I thought, what kind of fishmonger was not willing to fillet it? Rocky was so ugly, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him.
I took a stab at Rocky. After pulling flesh off the bones, I set it on my mound of rice and slid the suspicious skin to one side. More and more ominous bones surfaced. I shuddered.
I knew that even fish sticks weren’t 100% safe eating. When I was an adolescent, I swallowed a bone. It got stuck. Even with tweezers, my mother wasn’t able to extract it. As we drove off to the hospital, me clutching my neck, I swore off fish.
Until I was forced to eat it with Wen. As we turned Rocky over to pick at him again, I silently recited the procedure for the Heimlich maneuver. Continue reading