Remembering When…

If my son had to choose a favorite meal he’d be torn between three choices, tacos, enchiladas and…my personal favorite (NOT!)…tuna and noodles.  That last one is what he requests most often so it’s often his supper of choice.  Not mine!  If that’s what he wants, I’ll almost always have something else.  Soup, oatmeal and toast-anything that doesn’t include tuna.  Nothing will make me nauseous much quicker than that.

Thinking about it brought to mind a couple of different times in my life though.  First, the ‘big’ vacations we would take with my mother’s family when I was growing up.  Everyone would kick in to rent three or four cabins on a lake and then eight families, plus my grandparents, would crowd into them for a week.

One of the highlights was getting to clean the fish.  I don’t know why, especially considering my weak stomach.  But when I was a kid, it was cool.

On the other hand I still have trouble eating peanut butter from one of those vacation lunches.  Should have known when my baby brother offered to make me a sandwich that something was up.  That’s what I get for having my nose stuck in a book I guess.

What did I get?  A sandwich with peanut butter about an inch thick!  Something that came to my attention after taking my first distracted bite.  It might not have been bad had he also brought me a gallon of milk to wash it down…

About a decade later this same brother called and wanted to know if I wanted some fish he and his buddy had caught that day.  I recalled how good fresh-caught fish tasted on those vacations so sure, why not?  They weren’t cleaned, he warned.  well, I had plenty of experience.  No problem.

And so he brought over a five gallon bucket, not quite half full of bluegill.  It’s really quite astounding how many fish were in that bucket.

What I hadn’t considered was the fact that my stomach was about a decade older.  Cleaning fish at thirty is a lot different than cleaning it at fifteen.  Sitting on my screened in porch scaling, sawing heads off, and gutting about five million fish seemed to take hours.

In fact, it did.  I suspect that near constant gagging probably slowed the whole process down a bit.  But eventually it was finished and I froze most of them in water filled packages, anticipating all the fish we’d be eating for months to come.

Until I fried up what had been left out.

I don’t know if it was the particular lake they’d been caught in or what but those were the fishiest tasting fish I’ve ever had the misfortune to eat.  The taste stayed with me for hours, and is probably why my youngest daughter hates fish to this day.

Even worse, when my dad came up for a visit from Tennessee, he specifically asked me to thaw some out for one of the get-togethers.  A get-together for which I’d gone to the trouble of making homemade cinnamon rolls.  This was before I got my bread machine so all the kneading was by hand.

I tried to warn him about how awful the fish was but he assured me that the way he cooked it, it would be perfect (wish I had a picture of him kissing his fingers and thumb like a chef), so I tasted it.  And for the rest of the day that’s all I could taste.

The whole fishy cinnamon roll thing really didn’t work for me.


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