Thursday, May 17, 2007

Why I don't buy fish

It started out something like this yesterday:

"Why don't you pick up some more halibut," AB asked me as I was headed to the grocery store.

I paused and thought about this. Me pick out fish? After 13.5 years of being together he trusts me to have learned the nuances of picking out the fish? This is knowledge that is born with you and cannot be learned. Particularly by someone who was raised near the mountains, i.e., days of driving to an ocean.

Part of being a true Alaskan is having an intimate knowledge of fish and/or wild game that no one from the lower 48 can possibly possess.

One of the worst moments in mine and AB's relationship goes back to when he first met my mom and stepdad. Not only did my cat attack his head and he hit her (my stepdad cheered, I nearly cried), but my mom made salmon. Pink salmon, chum, dog food that is. AB didn't touch it and I was so appalled. My boyfriend was a salmon snob.

My mom and stepdad have long since been schooled in salmon (thanks mostly to AB) and have achieved the near Alaskan standards for selecting quality salmon varietals. They too can be classified as salmon snobs. We wear our Salmon merit badges with honor.

I got to Albertsons and went to the fish counter. I knew enough when the fish monger started pushing the fresh Copper River salmon for $12.99 a pound to turn my nose up at the way they were tossed willy nilly in the cooler looking as though they had been hacked in half with a rusty blade. For shame... the best salmon you can buy here locally treated so poorly.

I saw the goods, the halibut. I balked at $15.99 a pound, but it was perfect looking, white through and through, layed out neatly, and no bruising and fresh this morning the fish monger informed me. I didn't stop at one pound, I bought a whole two pound filet at just over $30. AB would be so proud and maybe I would be one step closer to earning my merit badge in Fish Selection.

I hauled it home happy with my purchase. I encouraged AB to open the package and examine the awesome looking fish I bought. He trusted me he said. I walked around all afternoon with my head held high!

We were making fish tacos for dinner. This is an excellent make ahead meal. If you are going to spoil your freshly cleaned kitchen by frying fish, you might as well do as much as you dare and freeze it, as it freezes excellently. And since I am returning to work on Monday (booo) we decided to stockpile by frying up about 3 lbs of halibut. All that we had left in the freezer and the big two pound filet I just bought. AB does the first pound and then opens the package I bought.


"This is cod," he tells me.

"It is not, it's halibut," I respond defensively.

"No it isn't. It's cod."

I am nearly to flipping my lid. "I am NEVER buying fish again, ever!" I say to him in a fake cheery voice so that Leif doesn't realize my displeasure.

"It's not your fault," he tells me, "but you were screwed. How much did you pay for this?"

I tell him.

Fireworks as his face drains of blood.

I held steadfast to it being halibut, they look similar. AB fries up a piece of this mystery fish and hands it to me.

Damn, I think. He's right. It's cod I announce. I may not know the difference raw, but I certainly can taste the difference.

Thankfully cod is our second choice for frying. AB fried the rest of it up without another word of displeasure though I know there were two things going through his mind... 1. I am buying the fish from now on. 2. Once again we are boycotting Albertson's fish counter, the remodel did nothing for their fish quality.

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