For my beloved Brother who introduced me to the art of cooking, who taught me how to taste and truly love food. Without him I'd never be able to be where I am today.

February 18, 2011

Something fishy going on?

I started this blog hoping to share with You as many of my sensational culinary as possible and I think I started pretty well. However, as much as I enjoy and live for those two second long heavenly highs, I also experience loathsome lows in the maze of tastes, recipes and ideas related to food. I hate to be negative so soon, but I simply can't help myself. Here's the story of the bastard of a plaice.

I started planning dinner early in the morning as always. Physically, barely out of bed, but mentally activated since hours by my roaring stomach and my lust for a delicious meal. Usually, I have to tone down my cravings for two reasons: 1) My empty bank account 2) The lack of someone to cook for and share the meal with. See for me, cooking alone just for yourself is very much like masturbating: you seek to fulfilled a basic need, take no pleasure in the process, race for the vexing outcome without paying attention to details and end up feeling disappointed and everything but satisfied. Any way, this time I could tick off one of the two reasons mentioned above – the second one of course because there's no remedy in sight for The Empty Wallet – Syndrome in Studentville.

During my mind-numbing Methodology lecture later that day, I made up the evening's menu via the Facebook chat with my dining partner: Breaded plaice fillets with capers and lime with a scoop of roasted parsnip-Parmigiano Reggiano mousse. Ça y est, my taste buds were aroused! No chance concentrating on anything else except for the delight awaiting me, getting closer and closer for every minute. After class, I decided to elongate the foreplay by dropping in at my favourite little Arabic food store to get the capers. I tried very hard not to look at the fresh food counter, but I was unable to Jedi-mind-trick myself. I saw a glimpse of home-made vine leaf rolls. What a perfect starter they'd make, I thought. Allez, I'll have two, no three, no four, okay enough! Four. Four's a good number. Again the cashier gave me a strange look (now that I think about it, I get that look relatively often...fair enough).

When I got home I tried to keep myself busy with anything non-food related, so that I wouldn't fall for the vine rolls prematurely. A lock on the fridge door would be very helpful indeed, don't we all know that. I decided nevertheless to at least take the fish out from the freezer (I'm almost embarrassed to admit my consumption of frozen fish. I'm a student and suffer from 3rd degree Empty Wallet- Syndrome, for Christ's sake!). Holy shit, that was fishy – literally! Now, don't get me wrong, I've had plenty of good experiences with frozen fish, but that smell made me extremely doubtful.

There was something fishy with the fish alright. Still, I thought that I shouldn't knock it before i try it and I decided to stop bullying the poor excuse of fish and let them melt in piece. When the cooking session was about to start, the fish already looked a bit better, “Ils ne me faisaient plus la gueule”, like one would say in French, so I was pretty pleased preparing the heavenly mousse next to my new less-fishy friends. Just a little hint: first boil the parsnips a bit and then brown/roast them with a bit of butter before mashing and blending them into a creamy unctuous mousse. Mousse aside, flour and salt on both sides of the fish fillets and in they go to the sizzling hot pan. My plaice fillets looked very happy and cosy as they were quivering in butter. I felt happy for them. As I was putting together the dish, it actually looked pretty fine I must admit, so my expectations for the taste also went up the ante.

As I stuck my knife and fork into the fillet, the texture of the fish seemed more than O.K. I closet my eyes and... Absolutely, nothing, nada, niente! What's wrong with my mouth? No taste what so ever! Not even bad a bad fishy taste! Come on, are you kidding me, don't be so cruel with me little plaice. Second try: still nothing! What a disappointment! You know those two seconds of divine pleasure I marvelled about with the coffee package, well in this case I experienced two seconds of sorrow and pain, a real anticlimax! Gain Some, Lose Some. Me and my cooking parter just looked at each other, there were no words needed. A flop, a total flop. After a moment of silence as if someone had just died, my friend says: “But hey, the parsnip mousse was exquisite”. I smiled.  

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