Posted: 9 December 2008 in Food, observations

I’ve never understood why the scent of a woman’s anatomy is sometimes compared to the smell of fish.  I’m partial, I know, but dead fish smell so thickly rotten that they couldn’t be mistaken for anything else.  And fresh fish don’t have a smell, right? 

When I think of a bad fish smell, I immediately think of humid summer mornings on Lake Michigan.  Maybe not every time we went, or even most times, but every so often my mother would load my sister and I into the car and haul us, a small plastic shovel and a pair of buckets to the beach just after dawn.  The sand was still cool enough for tiny feet and the beach was entirely deserted except for the thousands of tiny silver fish that had washed onto the sand.  It’s the only time I’ve seen both the sand and the water ripple silver.  We’d play in a clean spot of sand while the fish lay baking, filling the air with a sharp organic stink.

I suppose I’ve smelled dead fish other times, at other lakes, but I distinctly remember those rotting silver fish as the specific smell people are talking about when they say “Ew.  Fish.”  I didn’t even eat fish for a long time because I worried they would taste like they smelled.  I’ve since learned that freshly dead fish are a different thing altogether.  They don’t smell bad.  They don’t smell like much of anything.  They aren’t supposed to smell like anything.  While I don’t think they smell good, fresh fish is edible and sometimes tasty. 

We have a great recipe for salmon (the trick is to sear it on the flesh side and then place it in a colander, pour boiling water over it, and return it to the pan to finish cooking) and we were excited to employ it tonight.  But when D unwrapped the fish, a fishy smell rose up from the paper and filled the entire room.  Sure, it looked okay, but the smell was less than palatable and we didn’t think we could eat it, even with our oily fish technique.  After a short debate, the fish went into a large, sealed bag and into the trash.  The smell however, stained the air, clung to our skin, may be etched into the grout of the tile.  It’s resistant to candles, garlic, fresh ginger, the dog.  It might be with us forever.

I’m so glad we didn’t eat that fish.


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