Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Fishin' Blues

Saturday it was steamers. Today it was fish.
Ken took C out on the Patriot Party Boat's afternoon Deep Sea Fishing trip. They caught three sea bass and a scup. They also caught more fish that thankfully weren't big enough to keep.
For 50¢ a fish the ship's mate gutted fish for passengers. The best $2 ever spent as far as I'm concerned; but when they arrived home, I was still looking down a plastic bag full of beheaded fish.
Ken then took both the kids out, leaving me alone with the day's catch. I was forced to go on-line looking for instructions on making fresh fish filets. The directions told me what tools I needed: filet knife, kitchen scissors to cut off the tail and fins, and a big knife to scrape off the scales. There were also some things I needed that the directions didn't list: a big glass of wine and a towel so I wouldn't have to actually touch any fish tails.
I don't know why we even had a filet knife in the house. I don't recall its having ever been used except perhaps as a letter opener. A point that was driven home when I realized the knife was hopelessly dull.
The whole experience was strangely emasculating. I'm a native Cape Codder dammit, I should innately know how to gut and cut up a fresh fish instead of having to consult the Gorton's Fisherman web page. The reality, however, is that when I buy fish from the Clam Man or Cataumet Fish, I'm so queasy about the whole thing I even have the fish monger cut off the skin for me.
I blame my uncle (not a native Cape Codder) for laying a groundwork of doubt around my fishing skills at large. I vividly recall the end of my fishing career. My cousin and I had gone fishing off the floating dock at the yacht club. Fishing to us meant catching one fish a piece and then bringing them home, still on their respective lines, for my uncle to remove. My uncle sternly told us that if we couldn't take the fish off the hook, we shouldn't go fishing.
In retrospect I can see his point. We'd probably inadvertently killed two undersized fish, too small to cook up, not to mention the bait fish used to catch them. Funny how we had no problem sticking hooks right through those minnows. How could it be harder to take a hook out of a fish than to put one in?
Prior fishing expeditions taken by Maureen and I had only been as far as the end of my uncle's dock where we caught all manner of small fish. My uncle would take the fish off the hook, throw them back in the water, and call out to them: "be a smarter fish!"
Another recollection is of my dad cutting fish fillets in our kitchen. They were smallish fish, probably scup, and after he was done I took the still flopping fish across the street to dump them into the Childs River. I naively thought they might be able to swim away with half their bodies removed.
Tonight's filets came out okay. They didn't look restaurant quality, but it was nothing a little butter and bread crumbs couldn't cover up. Sadly, having been so intimate with the fish I found that didn't enjoy them much despite their being fresh and local my two favorite food prerequisites.
Last week Ken took C down to Woods Hole where they saw, but mercifully didn't catch, squid.

song: Fishin' Blues • Taj Mahal

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Joanne,

I finally had a chance to take a picture of that "young lungs at work" sign I was telling you about. If you would like I can email you the picture, just let me know.