Anyone familiar with my family growing up would likely know that fish wasn’t often on the menu. My Mom was not, in her words, “a fish person.” She didn’t like the smell of fish, especially the aroma that fills the house when it is cooking. The closest we came to fish dinners were Hunt’s fish and chips on a special Friday night (the battered halibut and crunchy fries arrived wrapped in newspaper) and the odd breakfast bass or perch fillet fried up at the cottage freshly caught that day from the Georgian Bay. And, after joining Weight Watchers when she was just about my age and middle aged spread was becoming a challenge, solid white tuna in water also made its way into our meals.
As a result of having limited exposure to fish as a child, and potentially exacerbated by inheriting my Mom’s taste buds, I have always shied away from fish too. My kids still tease me about my unwavering loyalty to Clover Leaf tuna – solid, never flaked – the only fish I regularly eat. Since I didn’t serve fish to my boys growing up, it was a great surprise to me when my older son expressed his love for sushi a few years ago. He suggested this feat to introduce me to what he was sure would be a whole new world of culinary pleasure for me.
On his recommendation, we went to Raw Fish in St. Catharines for all-you-can-eat lunch. The restaurant had pretty little hanging Japanese lanterns, and wooden booths with Christmas stockings hanging from the rafters to give it an extra festive feel. Our server asked us if we had been there before to determine how much she needed to explain. She showed me that the order form on the table was perforated so that we could order our courses in stages. While I was clueless, my son was well versed in the ordering protocol and I took my lead from him. I began with Miso soup while we perused the menu and decided what else we would try.
Together we chose a variety of dished including cucumber rolls, calamari, beef teriyaki, spicy chicken skewers, salmon rolls, mango and shrimp hand rolls, and eel. I diligently tried everything, starting with the least challenging chicken, beef, and cucumber. Next up was octopus. I have eaten calamari before, but nothing like this dish – for the first time it was real to me that this was an octopus: the tentacles were 6 inches long, and I could see the suckers through the thin batter. Down the hatch it went, followed by a generous swig from my water glass. It was rubbery, but not so bad. Then I tried the salmon sushi roll. The roll was pretty, with the pink salmon wrapped around the top. Unfortunately for me, pretty didn’t translate into appealing according to my tastebuds: as I swallowed, I actually experienced a gag response. My poor son looked very concerned and asked if I was okay. He then gave me the option of not trying anything else out of both genuine concern for me, and a realization that his ability to frequent the premises in future depended upon not having his lunch mate throw up at the table.
I did step back for a bit and filled up mostly on the chicken and beef dishes. But, my big finish was to try the eel that we had ordered. I actually think I might have swallowed this without chewing, but my adventuresome heart was in the right place. We ended our meal with green tea ice cream, which I kind of liked, or maybe disliked less than most of the other dishes.
In the end, I enjoyed lunch with my son, but, I confess, don’t think you will see us out for another sushi meal anytime soon. I guess I am my mother’s daughter, just not a “fish person” unless you count a little Miracle Whip and Clover Leaf solid white tuna.
Next up: Mindful Meditation at the South Coast Guest House