Last night we had another couple over for dinner. At one juncture conversation turned to odd and unusual foods we had eaten at one time or another – and what we might eat or find unpalatable in the category of the truly bizarre. Not like from the CBS TV show “Survivor” (duck embryos?…) of a Klingon battle-cruiser’s galley (“Gagh” or basically, live worms) but actually served in a restaurant or in somebody’s home. Yes, here on Earth.
Our worldly dinner guest (born in Israel, raised in Uruguay and possessed of decidedly European sensitivities) professed to willingly eat anything that might be served. I was impressed, but my gastric tract is less iron-clad. Ever the picker-eater, I listed various items that my palate refuses to regard as food: mushrooms, beats and Brussels sprouts are high on my personal list of the unsavory.
We then discussed foods we particularly enjoy. As a born and raised Marylander, and perhaps the most provincial Baltimorean on all of Spark, I’m partial to seafood and indulge in same as much as the Sparky nutrition tracker and my wallet both allow.
Whereas crab (our local seafood delicacy) can be an economic challenge to consume with frequency, fish of various kinds is on our menu somewhat more often. Even Susan818127, not a fish-lover by nature, has evolved a palate tolerant of certain fish. She is happier if fish is prepared in an Asian style (drumroll for the “Soy Vay” seafood sauce), whereas its lemon, dill and Old Bay for me.
So, what kind of fish? Well, with economics and the somewhat limited palate of Thing 1 and Thing 2 in mind, usually its either salmon or tilapia. As parents and Sparkies, we thought we were doing the right thing by having these fish as relative frequent flyers on our dinner plates, what with those uber-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids and all.
Recently I read an article that cast some overall doubt on the health benefits of the supermarket-variety of farm-raised Atlantic salmon routinely available for a quasi-affordable price here in the eastern seaboard. Apparently, such fish can concentrate pesticides, less healthy Omega-6 fats, appetite stimulants and other nasty stuff. Wild Alaskan salmon is recommended by aficionados – those seafood snobs must have some pretty green paper to feed their laser printers – our $20s and Benjamins look less believable and Alaskan salmon usually is out of reach.
This leaves tilapia. This stealth –fish is absent from the must-have healthy seafood lists, and is equally absent from the pollutant-sponge fishes to avoid. A versatile food that readily adopts to a variety of different flavorings- tilapia is our blank-white-canvas of seafood choices. As usual, some Sparky care and discretion is advised – and usually is exercised in our house – to keep high-fat and caloric toppings from undoing the healthy benefits.
A final word, as a Marylander who spent 8 or 9 summers of my youth on the coast of Maine, I am quite the seafood snob. In my book, the nose knows. If fish smells fishy, it’s past its prime. And don’t even try and offer up anything canned. Canned fish tastes like the can. And frozen fish tastes like the packaging in which it was frozen. It’s got to be (fresh) rock and roll music, if you want to dance (dine) with me. I never buy fish on a Monday or Tuesday, rationing that it rested on ice (or worse) for a few days since last it went swimming. (Oh, how I miss swimming!)
Finally, seafood is what I call protein and caloric efficient. I get more grams of protein per calorie without a corresponding fat and cholesterol penalty, or at least I perceive things this way. So, any seafood foodies out there in Spark-land? Favorite recipes to share?
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming (my blog, my rules...)