Foodie: Look! It’s got little teeth!
Beast: Of course it’s got teeth. Why do you think they call it a Red Snapper?
Foodie: I guess I never thought about it.
One of my favourite things to eat is whole grilled fish. I didn’t grow up eating it though. I must have been in my mid-twenties the first time I had a whole fish placed in front of me. I was with an ex-boyfriend in Sicily and neither of us knew what to do. He certainly didn’t rise to the occasion, so I did for the both of us: I cut off the head, then the tail, split it down the middle and took out the spine along with most of the bones. I did it all on instinct, maybe primal instinct, and I loved it. ( I can only imagine the thrill of catching a fish, gutting it, grilling it and then eating it.)
Since then, I’ve eaten whole fish just a handful of times (see old Prune post, or Piemonte post) but I’ve never prepared one myself. So when the Beast and I found ourselves in Whole Foods on Saturday night, (Mom, that’s a super-fancy grocery store chain that’s only recently come to Canada from the States. You can buy fancy salts, over-priced organic produce, olive oils from around the world, prepared salads and hot things, and meat and fish here), I suggested we take advantage of the opportunity to buy a whole fish from such a reputable seller.
On Sunday evening, just before the Beast got home from work, I consulted some cookbooks and figured out how to grill a fish. How hard could it be?
Beast: Want me to get the barbecue heated up?
Foodie: Yes please. I’ll follow you up with the food and I’ll start grilling.
Beast (while walking up the stairs and yelling over his shoulder): Oh no you won’t. I’ll do the grilling. You just poor me a glass of gin please.
Wowsa! The Beast was saucy and bossy tonight! I brought him up a cold gin and I prepared myself a cocktail made with homemade limoncello, ginger-ale and fresh mint. It was disgustingly sweet but I drank it to be polite.
Foodie: Yes sir! Now most instructions say to oil the grill but we don’t have anything to do that with so I just oiled the fish really well.
Beast: Okay. And for how long?
Foodie: I’d say about six minutes a side.
Beast: How did you arrive at that calculation?
Foodie: Supposedly for every inch of fish, you cook for ten minutes. This fish looks to be a little thicker than an inch so I tacked on another minute per side.
Beast: Great. I’d rather eat fish that was slightly overcooked than undercooked.
The Beast got the potatoes cooking in their foil bag, and devised a system to cook the asparagus better than he normally does (usually they get charred before they cook): he put them in a foil bag to steam up top and then at the end, gave them some direct heat.
Foodie: I’ll go get plates so we can eat outside.
Beast: Are you crazy? It’s too cold out here.
Foodie: Ah, okay (no it wasn’t). We’ll eat inside. You left a mess on the dining room table so we’ll have to eat in front of the television which means we might as well watch a movie. Which one do you want to see?
Beast: What are our options again?
Foodie: That documentary on Yves Saint Laurant.
Beast: I think it’s in French and I don’t want to read subtitles while I’m trying to eat.
Foodie: There’s that one on the Scopes monkey trial with Spencer Tracey and Gene Kelly.
Beast: Inherit the Wind. Yes! It’ll be perfect to watch a movie about evolution as we eat a distant ancestor. Okay, time to flip this thing….Oh shit.
Foodie: What have you done?
Beast: Call Giovanna!
Foodie: What’s Giovanna supposed to do?
Beast: I don’t know.
Foodie: It’ll be fine. It’s just a little skin that tore off.
Beast: But that’s the best part!
After another six minutes, we brought everything inside. It was up to me to make the fish presentable on our plates.
Beast: Oh God that’s horrible! Call Giovanna.
Foodie: What do you mean call Giovanna?
Beast: I want to know what part of the head I can eat.
Foodie: Giovanna runs a restaurant, works like a maniac, and is pregnant. I’m not calling Giovanna.
Foodie: I’m not doing a very good job at this. Not all the bones came out when I took out the spine. Does that mean it’s undercooked?
Beast: Call Giovanna!
Foodie: Put that down!
Foodie: Just grab the vegetables and let’s eat.
Beast: You’re telling me that after all my hard work, that’s all the fish I get?
Foodie: It is pretty small, isn’t it. I guess we should have bought two fish. Also, I think I did something wrong because I don’t remember having to so aggressively split the fish in two before. Isn’t it supposed to come split?
Beasts: Ask Giovanna.
The fish was so incredibly tasty that the Beast was moaning out loud. It’s too bad there wasn’t more of it though. Thank goodness I bought some Ontario strawberries to enjoy with some vanilla ice cream.
The movie was really good, especially Spencer Tracey’s performance. Although it was a bit disheartening when we realized that the way people talked about evolution, the Bible, and Charles Darwin in 1925 isn’t all that different from some of the testimonials you read about or hear on TV today.
Wait. I can’t end on that note. Give me a second here. Giovanna?