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I'll admit, I might not be the most laid back eater. Over the years, when I have scared myself by thinking about what it would be like to be in jail, certainly the brutality, the lack of decision-making and privacy, the lice, ugh, I don't even like to think of it now, but visually, it always comes back to a grey pile of quasi-meat goop slopped on a metal plate that gives me the shivers and I imagine deciding to end my life by just not eating. I know, dramatic and full of shit when my most difficult food decision today has been a deliberation between the Crunchy Hummus and Seasonal Peach with Goat Cheese salads at sweetgreens (I chose the latter. It was satisfying on a hot day). The point is that some foods have always given me the heebeejeebees, making me a challenging dining companion. And sadly, there seems to be no softening with age, my eating world is getting smaller.

When I was 4, I "had a bad egg", or so the fable goes (I suspect I was allergic) so haven't eaten anything significantly eggy since then, suffering through countless meals with whatever that thick egg and potato pie-ish thing. And the 80s, the era of quiche. At 7, I went off meat, with the exception of bangers, whose body part ingredients I didn't yet know, and crispy bacon, which doesn't seem any different than a good, salty potato chip, in fact at the BSO I was known as the bacon-eating vegetarian. People who found out I didn't eat red meat would say "aww, good for you", but honestly, it had nothing to do with conscience, I just never liked red meat. I had no qualms about putting a lobster into a pot of boiling water back then.

One of my favorite stories about Nat when she was very little involves her being in the grocery cart at Whole Foods and, as I was ordering chicken at the counter saying "Isn't it funny that they call it chicken?" What does one say? I went with "yes". We ate a lot of Moroccan Chicken in the days of entertaining big groups, but at some point, I couldn't stomach chicken anymore. And while I'd cook turkey for 25 at Thanksgiving, eating it was out of the question.

So, fish. A month or so back, I got a beautiful piece of wild salmon, but for some reason after I cooked it and had a bite, it tasted awful. Never smelled bad, but that taste stayed in my mouth for a few weeks, blech. So, then shellfish. About a week ago, Nat told me that sardines were in season in Lisbon and I couldn't get those wonderful grilled fish I'd have at every meal, with boiled and buttered potatoes and parsley and maybe a half hearted stab at a green vegetable; a salad or quasi-cooked zucchini. Oh, those sardines were so good with a glass of vinho verde, lunch and dinner, every day. So when Wegman's didn't have soft shell crab today, I asked for the sardines.

While my friend the fishmonger was packing them, I confirmed that they were cleaned. He said they weren't but that it was easy.

"You see this pinhole? You put your knife in there and then score along until you get to the head, opening up the body, then you put your finger in there and scoop everything out, it's very easy. You should have your children watch, and tell them that you'll do the same to them if they misbehave"

Bon appetite, I think.


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