“One man’s fish is another man’s poisson”

Boston is officially suffering through a heat wave. We aren’t because the cape is a few degrees cooler. Today will be 88˚, but the humidity is making the weather even more unbearable. Walk around outside and it smothers you, draws the life right out of your body. I, however, will never suffer that fate. I have become a hermit in the comfort of my air-conditioned home. Yesterday I went out about three times to the deck. The first time was to water the plants and the other two times were to warm up my feet. Yup, the AC forced me to put on socks. I felt sort of silly.

Gracie loves being in the cool house. She goes outside and squats then runs right back to the door to be let inside. The cats, however, have a different take on the AC. They find sun spots on the floor from the windows and sit there taking in the warmth. Fern, especially, misses the warmth. Usually in the morning she would lie in the sun streaming through the front door and sleep so deeply I could hear her small snores.  The poor babies will have to wait a bit before it is cool enough to turn off the AC and open doors and windows.

Where I lived in Ghana was about as far from the ocean as you could get and still be in Ghana. The only fish you could find in the Bolga market was smoked and dried and looked disgusting, almost leathery. I didn’t even try it. It always seemed a bit strange to me that many Ghanaians actually preferred the dried fish to fresh. I used to think it was because they didn’t get fresh fish, but Grace, who lives in Accra, which is right on the ocean, buys dried fish. She won’t eat it fresh, thought the whole idea was a bit disgusting, but for those of us who love fish the Ghanaian seaside is like paradise. Some of the best fish dinners can be bought at small thatched huts along the shore. The huts have a few tables with benches, always a bit unsteady on the sand, and brightly colored umbrellas with beer logos to shield diners from the hot sun. The owners, who are generally the cooks, buy the fish right off the boats. The fish is usually wrapped in banana leaves and cooked over charcoal. The taste is amazing. Red snapper is my favorite.

In Togo, a country bordering Ghana, I had my first taste of barbecued lobster. It was dinner on the patio of a fairly large, sort of posh hotel, where we could never afford to stay but eating on the patio was within the budget of a Peace Corps volunteer: translation-it was inexpensive, maybe even cheap. My friend Ralph and I sat under an umbrella and watched as the lobster was cut down the middle then cooked. It was delicious.

Our mid-tour conference was at Dixcove, a neat little fishing village down the coast from Accra. We stayed in small cottages right on the ocean. I don’t remember anything about the technical parts of the conference, but I remember the rock lobster. We’d went to the village and paid a few guys small money to dive for the rock lobsters then we paid to have them cooked. Eating them was a divine experience I’ll never forget.

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12 Comments on ““One man’s fish is another man’s poisson””

  1. Vintage Spins Says:

    Kat,

    You have my mouth watering this morning – I love seafood, though I’ve never had lobster. I’d love to, but the thought of those poor little guys being cooked alive just pricks at my conscience.

    I was looking for a new song to post on my blog-in-progress today and came across this one on my ipod. Wasn’t one of your carers after your operation named Sheila ? (I can’t remember if it was your sister or your nurse,) Anyway, thought I’d send it along.

    https://www.box.com/s/6zjdw85axaa2rpui3ui3

    Marie

    • katry Says:

      Marie,
      I love lobster, but I hate putting them into the water. I justify it by always thinking they are giving of themselves for a higher purpose.

      That was my sister Sheila who came down and stayed with the pets while I was in the hospital then stayed to nurse me. She’ll love this song so I’ll pass it along.
      Thanks, Marie!!

  2. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    Dried fish over fresh? No. That’s like preferring canned peas over fresh off the bush. So wrong. 🙂

    Now I want some lobster.
    But that would mean I would have to go outside in the hot, hot, hot. I don’t want it that badly.

    I had to go out early this morning for an appointment. It was already nasty. It’s hotter here than where my friend lives in Texas.

    Rocky is bored. He wants to go out. The shady back yard is not interesting enough. It has to be the front yard. He plunks himself down on the hot asphalt walkway and pants. After a while he moves to the hot grass and pants some more. Then he comes in and lies on the floor in the dead dog position. Or he lies on the couch and fidgets while heaving great sighs of boredom.
    Sorry, buddy, I can’t make it cooler out for you. 🙁

    Enjoy the day!

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      I’d love a lobster roll for dinner, but, like you, I will not leave this comfy, cool house.

      That dried fish was gross looking. I usually try anything, but I like fish too much to have given that fish a try.

      We’re a bit cooler down here but only by a couple of degrees. We don’t qualify for the heat wave as we didn’t reach 90˚ three days in a row.

      Gracie is just fine inside. She wanted out a while ago so I let her out then left the door very slightly ajar. It wasn’t long before she was banging her dog door to come inside. She’s now quite contently napping on the couch.

      Stay as cool as you can!!

  3. olof1 Says:

    No heat wave here but it felt very warm despite the thermometer saying different.

    I’ve never had barbecued lobster but I have had barbecued nephrops (or Norway lobster as Google suggested). Smaller but very tasty too. I love all kinds of sea food and the beat I’ve had was on the Canary island Lanzarote, some kind of Sea bass. But I’ve also hafd fried Sword fish and that was delicious too 🙂

    One thing lots of people loves here in Sweden is Stockfish, It’s dried cod or a relative to cod and it’s simply disgusting 🙂 🙂 The only thing that makes it edible is the gravy but to be honest, I think wet paper towels taste better 🙂

    Have a great day!
    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      A heat wave is three days in a row over 90˚ and Boston is now on day 4.

      I googled nephrops and think it looks like a cross between our lobster and a shrimp. A big difference is our lobsters have much larger claws which yield a lot of lobster meat. It looks perfect for barbecuing.

      Baccalà is salt cod and it is one of the Italians favorite ways of eating fish. A lot of it is imported from Norway. On Christmas Eve Italians celebrate the The Feast of the Seven Fishes and salt cod is usually part of the feast. My uncle owned a fish store in east Boston which has a lot of Italians. He sold tons of baccalà during the holiday. I remember seeing it when we were in Portugal. I too would never eat it or even taste it.

      Have a wonderful evening!

      • olof1 Says:

        We call the nephrops ocean craw-fish in Swedish. I think that name suite them better than lobster. It’s tradition to have craw-fish parties here in Sweden when the month of August starts and people living by the ocean usually eat nephrops and inlands usually eat craw-fish from lakes and rivers. I love both but they are nasty expensive now days.
        Christer.

      • katry Says:

        Christer,
        We have crawfish here in the US, mostly the south, but they are small. I never find them up here. I’m fine with that-we have plenty of great seafood.

  4. Bob Says:

    Today and tomorrow we should have afternoon high temperatures in the upper 90s. The humidity has been low so it’s not totally miserable 🙂 When I was in Dubai in May a couple of years ago the temperature was about 43 C 110 F degrees with 90% humidity 🙁 it was like Houston on steroids 🙂

    Smoking or drying the fish concentrates the flavor and preserves the meat. The only smoked fish I like is smoked salmon or lox.

    Barbecue lobster sounds sinfully delicious. Did they boil them first and barbecue the shelled meat or did they just throw them onto the coals?

    • katry Says:

      Bob,
      Boston isn’t that far behind you. It was in the mid-90’s there yesterday and is supposed to be as bad today. We’ll hit at least 88˚ which is as high a temperature as we generally get.

      Humidity isn’t bad today but it has been the last few days.

      I don’t ever eat salmon, haven’t ever liked it.

      They put it right on the coals split down the middle. It was definitely sinfully delicious. I haven’t forgotten in all these years how delicious it was and also how different than I’d ever had lobster before.


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