Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Fish Dinner


Looking at my fine feline friend here you'd be forgiven in thinking that I was about wax lyrical about her cute little ways, her sweet habits and her sense of playful abandon. You' be wrong. You are staring into the rather dainty eyes of a cold hearted murderous thieving bitch. Yes, you are. Sweet, ain't she?

I used the picture since I had none of a fish to hand and I remembered the time that this little one here emptied a neighbours pond of fish in a very systematic afternoons work. Just for fun. I don't believe there was a mark on any of the fish. I think she just liked the way they jumped about when she pulled them out of the pond and left them flopping on the crazy paving.

Anyway, the reason that I wanted a picture of a fish was something occurred to me about them. Nothing terribly profound, I'll grant you, and not terribly original, but I started to think about national fish. Your staring blankly, I can tell.

When I was a kid, we had an enormous and stupendously erroneous encyclopedia in the house. My dad had bought it hoping it help his children be educated, we leafed through the naughty bits and pretty much left it at that. As is the way of things, on lazy Sunday afternoons I would pick on of the volumes at random and read. The one thing that always impressed me what the huge lists that would accompany any entry regarding one of the United States. Ludicrous lists, detailing the state bird, the state fish, the state colour, the state thistle, the state hat, the state tree, the state grass, on and on these lists would go. I remember thinking it was seriously amiss that the entries for the UK and Spain didn't have equally thorough lists, but it was an American encyclopedia and it was the '80's, what ya gonna do?

Anyway, some stray synapse returned this memory to me and particularly within the context of fish. Don't ask. So, what is an English fish? The best fish for my money caught in our waters is turbot, close sweet tender flesh in tidy flat form, a true winner, but not a fish you associate with us as a group. Now, your obvious choice is Cod. Battered, it fed the hungry during the war, is synonymous with our most hackneyed of national dishes. Yeah, but I can't help thinking, that like eels, there is too much of the East End about it, it does not truly represent. Salmon? Scottish. Trout? Irish, dunno why, just feels that way to me. Hmm, I'll come back to that.

Other countries are easy. Spain? Hake. Not sardines I hear you shriek? Nah, not even salt cod. Merluza is the dish I always associate with Spain. Great thick steaks thrown into the pan, massive meaty flakes that soak up the olive oil and garlic, their huge ugly heads a permanent fixture of any market in Spain. The French? Something like carp I imagine. Italians? I'd probably spark an international incident if I tried to peg them down to one.

Now that I think about, I reckon the most English of fish is the finger. Yup, the fish finger. Dunked into ketchup it very fails to bring a smile and even better between soft buttered bread and a cup of splosh. The fish finger which I am sure we eat about a billion of a year wins out. I know it's not actually a fish, but it's probably as close as most get to one, so I'll go with it. Fish Finger, King of English Fish.


Dana said...

Awe, what a cute little theif. What country brags the goldfish as their national fish anyways. Better off dead I say.

I don't know what america's national fish is... Seattles would be the Salmon. Can't get around salmon here.

farmgirl said...

LOL, you certainly do have a unique mind.

P.S. Cute cat, murderess or no.

P.P.S. OMG, my word verification is obscene! (Is there a special setting for that?)

Brett said...

"Not sardines I hear you shriek?" Wow, you certainly have good ears. But, alas, you're 100% correct. Merluza is easily the national fish of Spain.

America's national fish is probably chicken. Or perhaps Chicken of the Sea, a brand of canned tuna packed in water. Awful stuff.

keiko said...

Enjoyed all the comments as much as your post :)

Can I ask what her name is?

Cate said...

Wow, what a gorgeous picture!

MM said...

It's the pretty ones you have to watch out for ...

Brilliant post. Enjoyed it immensely!