I was hungry. I needed something quick before dinner. I didn't feel like chopping or peeling or sauteing or even microwaving. I just wanted a 2-second jolt of protein. Into the pantry, wading through the options, ah, now, that's perfect. Cranked back the top of the tin, settled in with some crackers, and I was good to go.
Until this, from my dear, loving husband:
"Oh, God. No. I can't even look at that. You know what those look like? Chrysalises."
Okay, fine, so he's not a fan of oysters. Raw, smoked, baked, he just doesn't like them. I mean, look, I grew up as a Jewish girl in New York. We ate smoked fish. Lox. Herring. Whitefish salad. (Oysters aren't kosher, but neither are we so it didn't make a difference.) So what if I keep a tin of smoked oysters in the pantry next to the tuna and black beans? Who cares?
When I was a kid, my mom would occasionally serve tongue for dinner. I had no idea this was any more unusual than roast beef or ribs or, I don't know, steak, until one night, my best friend came for a sleepover.
"What are we having for dinner tonight?"
She left early.
(In my defense, her house always smelled like curry, which used to quease me out. Of course, now I'd pay top dollar for a home-cooked Indian meal.)
Fact is, I still have a soft spot for the foods of my youth. When I was in Boston a month ago, I went to Zaftigs for the first time. Revelation! I was in HEAVEN. I designed my own little tasting plate, with scoops of whitefish salad and chopped liver, a few slices of Nova, a nice sesame bagel. Washed it down with a vanilla egg cream because, really, talk about a food and beverage pairing. That one there's a no-brainer.
So keep enjoying your filet mignons and your fancy halibut and, yes, even your Texas barbecue. I eat smoked fish without apology. We even have a word for it in my culture: appetizing. And I'm not making that up.
One caveat, though: I don't eat beef tongue anymore because, frankly, that's just disgusting.