Whole Foods

It seems easier sometimes to find nourishing whole foods in foreign lands than in America. Like these fish:

My first day in town I ate the one that looked prototypically fishlike. Besides costing less it was also less intimidating than the ugly, whiskered one.

The woman laughed as I began trying to eat it, charred scales and all. Taking back my fork and spoon, she demonstrated how to separate the edible flesh from inedible skin. I was surprised at how delicious it was.

Next day I returned for the ugly one. It had been on my mind all day. Why did such an ugly fish cost more? It wasn’t any larger. Shouldn’t it cost the same or less? Soon after ordering and digging in, I realized that this fish’s skin was not scaly like the other one. I tore off some skin and gestured to the woman, “Can I eat?” “Yes, very good.” she said. And it was.

After our intimate dinner together the fish didn’t seem ugly any more.

These fish remind me how extensively we obfuscate death in American cuisine. How deftly our foods are sold and prepared so as to hide the fact that what is lying on our plate was once living animal. I respect the hunter who catches and kills, and also the vegetarian who dwells on the killing and wants no part. But to eat the dead while hiding that it once lived seems dangerous to me.