Specifically, I’m referring to my fish aversion. As I’ve noted and probably made clear based upon the frequency with which I delve into matters food-related, I enjoy a bit of the culinary. I like cooking, learning about cuisines, tasting and testing new recipes in the kitchen.
It’s probably in the family genes. My youngest brother Josh, the true, family gourmand, has a degree from the prestigious, New York CIA and now stands at the helm of an upscale, Cincinnati eatery where he whips up delights for his regulars. Among his offerings one Christmas season was my mother’s matzoh ball soup – a recipe he added to the menu for the fun of it.
Emulating Josh to my utmost, I forge into the kitchen with vim and vigor. This week, in fact, I spent three hours at Shuk Ha’Carmel gathering shallots, ginger, fresh lemon grass, Thai stick noodles, tamarind paste and a mortar and pestle to make authentic, Tom Yum Goong .
Back in my cramped kitchen, another two hours went into prepping, simmering the fish stock and adding the called-for ingredients until the broth was ready for consumption, noodles, prawn tails and all. I sat down, inhaled the vapors and froze. You have mine. I’ll throw up. I told Tonny.
Familiar with my aversion he asked: It’s the fish, isn’t it? I nodded glumly, heading into the kitchen to fix myself a plain bowl of noodles with instant, chicken soup instead.
Why, oh why, do I continue to torture myself with this fish thing? I want so badly to fawn over baked salmon and ooze over steamed clams – and yes, there are some swimmers I can tolerate like a super mild halibut.
But why, when my stomach clenched in exactly the same manner some years ago while in St. Maarten after purchasing a live, 10-pound lobster at the pier and having the hotel chef prepare it in butter, do I push to the front of the line, begging: “Please sir, may I have some more?”
What would Buddha say I should learn from this experience? Were it that this was my most exacerbating challenge in life.