Thursday, April 15, 2010

Um, I'm pretty sure the plate shouldn't smile back

Stop me if you've heard this one...

I'm sitting at the pasta bar, reading a food mag while I'm waiting for my cheesecakes to bake.

Maria, one of the kitchen staff walks up to me and says, "Jenni. Pescado, en la cocina." For you gringos, that means Fish, in the kitchen.
YES! It's comida time! (This phrase, though incorrect, is one that I picked up in the kitchen I worked in back in Frisco.)

Never being one to turn down food and knowing that this is the only invite to family meal that I will get, I jumped off my bar stool and headed for the kitchen. (Let's face it, I didn't get this hot mess of a body by skipping meals.) There were fresh tortillas, homemade pico de gallo, avocados jalapenos and limes lining the prep tables in the back. I'm thinking to myself, "Sweet mother. Fish tacos with the fixins!"

As I helped myself to the tortillas and began to load up on all the tastiness, Maria brought out the covered plate of Pescado. I could tell by the smell that she had fried our gilled friends to GBD perfection. (For those who didn't go to culinary school or haven't heard me say it, GBD stands for Golden Brown and Delicious.) She rolled back the cover, and out from underneath the foil tent came my fried-finned brethren. To my horror, I noticed that fish were starring at me. Literally. "Oh. My."

At this point, I only had 2 options:
1. Swallow the vomit that had so quickly lept up in my throat.
2. Take the fish with eagerness and pray to God that Maria and the rest of the kitchen crew didn't see me freak out.

Have you ever had to pick at the carcass of a fried fish when you don't feel all that great to begin with? Nevermind the fact that I didn't know how I was going to be able to open my mouth to take a bite without barfing. I had to pick out the pin bones that I knew would still, somehow find their way into my mouth and I would ever so discretely have to spit out. I thought it was a joke at first. "Let's see what we can get Pastelita to eat today." (Pastelita is what some of the prep guys call me at work, since I make cake every week. Pastel - Spanish for cake. Silly as it may seem, I like it.) But when I turned to see all the prep cooks digging in, it was no joke and I was committed.

Maria gets so excited to cook for me and waits with eager anticipation for my culinary blessing, how was I supposed to be anything but excited for her and anxious to eat the family meal that she had so obviously put much effort and love into? So, with a guilty conscience but great determination, I dug in. And to give credit where credit is due, it was good. Really good actually. So good in fact, that by the time I was finished, my plate resembled that of a scene from a cartoon. An entire fish skeleton, fully intact and no meat or skin to be seen. Except for the head. You can say what you want, but I don't do eyeballs. Ever.

Had the circumstances been any different, I probably would not have been such a willing participant. However, this comes from the girl who, at 22, sat in the middle of the jungle in Belize and did shots of vipor rum with the natives. I didn't think anything about it until they brought out the bottle of rum with a vipor snake in the bottom. Apparently, when it drowns, it secretes its venom. This could all have been a bunch of hogwash, but for 2 days my throat was numb. But I was in like Flynn with the locals!

Oops! Sorry...I was chasing rabbits and forgot my original train of thought.
ANYWAYS... So, yes. My belly was full and Maria's ego had been all in all, it was a good day.

My game winning tip for your next meal...if you think it's going to freak out your guests, it probably will. Or, at least warn them if there is the potential for a staring match with the food. I'm just sayin...

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