Maybe I eat too much fish. How many other people have herring for breakfast every day? No one else that I know, that’s for sure. It used to be a mackerel fillet but now I’m on the hard stuff.
They say fish is good for you but many people also say that you can have too much of a good thing – except salted caramel ice cream, obviously. Too much of anything is bad, say the self-proclaimed proponents of healthy eating who are only too keen to dole out advice when you finally decide to admit your weird addiction is smelly fish.
I have the herring tossed in oatmeal then fried with beefy tomato halves sizzling in the same pan. For me, that is quite a novel way to do them because we grew up eating herring the same way as we gobbled up all fish – with potatoes and a glass of milk on the side. If it was salt herring, you could have Lucozade, beer or even a dram at hand to kill the salty fishiness of the package that had just been brought in from the smelly fish van that had stopped at the gate. But it was still a treat then because the van came round only once or twice a month, and not in the winter.
Yet here I am now having herring every day. Fish is supposed to be good for your brains and intelligence what with its omega-3 but I am still not confident enough to go on Mastermind. I fear I could turn into a fishface like the one in the Pirates of the Caribbean films which was on TV at the weekend with the character Davy Jones. He’s the grotesque one with the face like a plateful of calamari – that’s calamari before it is fried and before the squid and octopus have had their tubes and tentacles sliced. Not a good look.
And I saw that story earlier this week about the fishmonger’s shop that was closed down in Kuwait. The crime? They had stuck those plastic googly eyes you get on teddy bears on the fish to make them appear fresher. Photos, even including one showing one of the fake eyes slipping off, were passed around on social media and they do look like tastier when they have teddy bear eyes. Keen to stick the boot in, other Kuwaiti fish sellers have been advertising fresh fish “without cosmetics”.
The real reason I am on about fish this week is because a fine Christian gentleman gave me a bag of squat lobsters, basically the smaller, redder variety of nipping shellfish. On Saturday he had been on seabed of Loch Luerbost where he dives and finds all these wonderful delicacies sitting waiting to be taken to a plate. I gratefully accepted the bag and put it in Mrs X’s car, right behind the driver’s seat. Thank you, Michael. I am looking forward to a scoff.
Yesterday morning Mrs X got her photo equipment ready and headed off to a job. She climbed into her car – and shot back out of there. The next thing I saw was her retching in the street. Had she had a dodgy egg for breakfast? She’ll never learn to check the Best Before date. However as I walked up to the car, I felt the awful smell. That indefinable stench of shellfish that has gone off. She can’t stand much fish at the best of times but she was red-faced, almost vomiting, and furious. I had completely forgotten about the bag of shellfish.
You have to be so careful with fish. I heard a story about a posh Inverness couple who hosted a dinner party and their daughter who was helping with the cooking came and whispered to the lady of the house that the cat had eaten a chunk out of the middle of the salmon in the kitchen. The hostess remembered she had a few tins of salmon and asked the maid to serve that. No one would notice. It all went well and everyone enjoyed the meal. As everyone relaxed afterwards, the daughter beckoned her and told her tearfully that the cat was dead.
The hostess was horrified. She had to tell the guests what happened and took them off to Raigmore Hospital. They had to have their stomachs pumped – not a nice experience. Afterwards, the bedraggled dinner guests headed homewards and the embarrassed hosts returned and found their daughter still dutifully clearing up. The lady of the house then asked where the body of the cat was. The daughter replied: “It’s still out by the road, Mum, where the car hit it.”