29.01.2007 13:43 - Fish-Fingers for Snobs
Those of you who've seen me in the flesh, (and, let's face it, there's a fair amount of it) know I like my food.
There are some things I just can't abide.
Top of the list comes fish. I hate fish. I've hated fish since I was four. You see, in those days, even in a Methodist household, it was still largely de rigeur to eat fish on Fridays. The problem was the bones. One particularly horrific Friday my mother insisted that I eat my fish. I told her I didn't like it. Repeatedly. I told her I was frightened of the fishbones. She still insisted, and made me eat a mouthful of hers, saying that there were no bones in it. She was wrong.
A fishbone lodged in my gullet, and I spent the second most frightening minute of my life1 (could have been two, because it seemed like a half-hour to me) choking on it. To this day I can barely tolerate the taste of fish. I can just about tolerate fishfingers or Birdseye fillets, as long as I can be guaranteed it's free of fishbones - even squid rings or octopus (both totally bone-free, as free as the wind blows). However, a single fishbone can result in a ten-minute retching fit, falling off the chair, gasping for air, and finally, launching the offending bolus (not you, Chris) out of my mouth against the wall. Which doesn't exactly endear you to the restaurant owners.
It is, with some puzzlement, then, that I view Sushi. In the eighties, such is my provincial upbringing, I rapidly came to the conclusion that sushi is fish-fingers for snobs. The fact that it initially caught on with the marketing brigade confirmed my suspicions. Anyone paying that much for a chunk of raw fish, however exquisitely filleted, has got to be a sphincter ventriloquist.
Look, don't start. I know about the wasabi, and the soy sauce. I know that not everything contains fish. I just don't like it, ok? As for wasabi, you can just buy horseradish sauce and put in green food-colouring, which I have a sneaking suspicion is what most of it is. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who eats fish raw is risking a bad case of worms. And, let's face it, looking at the physical attributes of the Japanese, they're not exactly an advert for their diet, are they?
As a matter of fact, a friend came back from Japan recently, where he'd been treated to a four-star (or whatever the Japanese equivalent is) sushi restaurant. Over a curry, he told me that he'd had a box placed in front of him, which he'd opened to be confronted by something that looked like one of H.P. Lovecraft's wilder nightmares. He shut it quickly, to laughter from his Japanese friends.
The box, apparently, contained sea urchin. The cook happened to ask what the English did with sea urchins, John replied "We throw away the insides and make the shell into lamps". This, apparently, was the funniest thing the cook had ever heard.
1The first most frightening minute of my life also had something vaguely to do with fish, but I don't want to talk about it yet.