Holiday Cooking, and The Fish

My favorite thing about most holidays is the meal. I love cooking, and while I don’t necessarily need an excuse to make a big fancy meal, I feel a little less silly when there’s any reason besides simply dinnertime. So, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, birthdays, Labor Day, Presidents Day, whatever, I’m excited because I get to make something special. Okay, maybe not Presidents Day, but I’ll start a tradition for it next year!

We’d originally planned to have a big fancy meal, but when I was feeling down the other day I suggested that I just cook the ham and some rolls and we eat it in bed watching movies all day.

Yeah, I couldn’t really do that.

So there’s a pie crust cooling on the stove to be filled with chocolatey goodness.

20111224-143601.jpgNot my best effort, but in my defense, I’ve never baked an empty pie crust before.

As I finished up throwing some leftovers into another crust for a pot pie dinner, I realized I hadn’t looked at a cookbook in a while. So I got down my favorite from when I was a little girl, the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook. This was one of the two standby books I turned to for entertainment, mainly because of the 94 glossy pages of almost every kind of dish you’d want (the other standby was actually a dictionary, but that’s another story).

I took my book to the living room, and paged through the yumminess until I got to The Fish. And I just had to tell you about it.

20111224-144710.jpgYour cookbooks are wrinkly and water damaged too, right? At least, the good ones.

My mother made The Fish when I was nine years old, and scarred me for life.

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating just a wee bit.

But the horror!

My dad has been an amateur fisherman for as long as I can remember, so it’s not like I never saw a whole fish before. Heck, we lived on a sailboat until I was three years old! I don’t know why none of that prepared me for the ghastliness of this poor red snapper, lying in his Pyrex coffin, staring me down.

I’d seen plenty of fish before, dead fish, live fish, cleaned fish, filleted fish, but I’d never seen a whole cooked fish. It was the eye that got to me. Cloudy but still shiny, sinister in the way it wanted to follow me around the room, like a creepy painting.

I did not eat The Fish. I bore the derision of my mother as best I could and went to bed hungry.

For a long time after that I was unable to partake in any meal that could look at me. I’m a south Louisiana girl to the core, and I couldn’t even peel my own crawfish for years, because of course, they still had eyes. And they looked at me.

I grew out of that eventually, though I’m sure I will never bake a whole fish.

I leave you with my first chocolate pie:

20111224-172322.jpg
And with my best wishes to you to enjoy your Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or Boxing Day, or whatever it is that is there to be enjoyed.

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10 Comments on “Holiday Cooking, and The Fish”

  1. I couldn’t look a whole fish in the eye either. There’s this incident where I just randomly picked something off the menu and my wonderful husband spent the rest of the time telling me it was going to be the WHOLE fish. I was thankful when they came and told me they were out!

    Merry Christmas!

  2. I do not eat anything with the eyes still attached. And I don’t eat eyeballs. Eyeballs are too squishy looking. And just yeesh.

    Merry Christmas!!

  3. Yea I can’t eat anything that is still looking at me either. Just thinking about it creeps me out!

    Hope you had a Merry and Blessed Christmas! That pie is making me drool!

  4. Lynn says:

    Ugh! I’m actually a certified catering specialist (although I don’t do this for my job…..I prefer to cook for fun) and the class where we had to cook a whole fish still haunts me to this day. I am normally a person who partakes of my makings with gusto, but not that day. The thought just horrifies me! Glad I’m not alone =D And, yes, most of my cookbooks look like that!

    ICLW #60

  5. Those eyes are kinda creepy.

    But pies have no eyes so please pass a slice. Seriously — it looks so yummy!

    Happy New Year to you!

  6. […] I did find The Fish. Oh my, that fish. I’ll have to ask my mother if she remembers cooking a whole fish and […]


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