Fish Fears

Two months ago I made a pact with myself: if fish found its way to my dinner table, I would make sure it found its way to my fork, which leads me to my little seafood issue. Call it seaweed or nori, scrod or Chilean sea bass, shrimp – yes, shrimp, or scallops, I’m not down with it. Nope not down with it at all. So two months ago I decided that if I wanted to be a real food writer, this attitude just wouldn’t float. What kind of food expert swears off the entire bottom right hand corner of the menu? I realized it was high time for me to take this tiny boned, dorsal-fined skeleton out of my closet and make stock. So it’s been two months and while I have stayed true to my word, the results aren’t exactly what I was hoping for.

One of my very first contenders was a mussel in a marinara sauce. Now before everyone gets all… well, that’s her problem – who starts eating fish with mussels? Please let me remind you that I did live in Japan for two years. This is not my first journey down this road of let’s learn-to-love-fish. So anyway, I eyeballed that mussel for a really long time – blue black on the outside and orange in the middle – the sauce did very little to shield the natural beauty of the little bivalve (Bivalve, that’s the cute pet name people have for these things. To me it sounds more like the prefix to an invasive cardiothoracic procedure). The upside is that I got to use one of those mini forks to wrestle the little sucker from his shell before I popped it in my mouth. Let me just tell you that mushy and chewy do not go together like peanut butter and jelly. While the very soft center of my orange little friend kept me well aware that I was eating some portion of a digestive tract, the rubbery ring surrounding the mush, the muscle of the mussel, made it all but impossible to swallow whole. I was going to taste every bit of that thing whether I liked it or not. After the first show down I tried to go back and eat another, but my stomach refused. That was enough training for one day.

But that was two months ago: since then I have had grilled grouper, pan fried snapper, broiled haddock a sundry of shrimp, and some other sea dwellers that will forever remain in the inner most recesses of my brain’s trauma center. The question is, do I give up? H to the double hockey sticks no – this is no longer about finding something I enjoy. This is an all out war of wills – a palate re-education by force – an acquired taste, if you will. I’m starting to think that to get this done, I’ll have to up the stakes. Tiny bites here and there are all well and good, but tiny bites mean tiny progress. I am also thinking that there should be some huge culminating event, a coming out party of sorts. So I’m throwing it out to you guys. What and when should the big event be and how do I get there? If you think I’m just going to start popping crab stuffed cuttlefish like C vitamins; you can forget it. I’m looking for real solutions here. So what cha’ got?


  1. Drink! Nothing says "I love eating fish" better than a fine Chardonnay, Pinot Gris or Reisling to accompany your dulls the palate and livens the mood. Ha! Before you know it, you'll love seafood. :)

    BTW - please, please learn to love Calamari. I do, and can't cook it to save my life.

  2. Devon,

    You're a stronger-willed person than I am. I made it through 3 years of Japan eating hardly any seafood. I've been trying to change, but with the tiny bites method.

    I would agree that consumption of alcohol is the way to proceed. I'd like to join you in your coming out, at least in theory, but the brain trauma function still kicks in pretty strong at the thought of eating seafood.