Monday, July 2, 2007

Song of the Anchovy

(Solo Lunch #2)

faced with another dog day afternoon
I wandered into Monterey Fish Market
where among majestic fillets in pink and gray
and salmon that could wrestle me to the ground

I saw a hundred fish each no bigger than a finger
all in an abalone shell
staring blankly up
too small to have scales their skin as silver as mercury
the lowly anchovy

do I have to clean those I asked
unless you want to eat guts the bearded fishmonger said
he looked liked he'd just backpacked the sierra with bare feet
here I'll show you how

and with a pair of regular scissors
the best kitchen tool he said
he snipped off the head at a slant
snipped the stomach
as deft as an Italian tailor
and with two motions of thumb and index
removed guts and spine and spread the fish into two fillets

even the handful he put on the scale was too many
I bought about twenty for $2.28

brought them home with dreams of frying
but first I snipped and cleaned till I had a neat pile of triangular heads
like a little pile of of old Roman coins
eyes still very clear

improvising I
tossed them into a pan to marinate in
olive oil salt garlic
and some sherry vinegar infused with chipotle and rosemary
and I did the dishes

later outside on the grill
very careful to lay them across the bars or they would have fallen through easily

In two minutes their skin has crisped to the grill
so they made a sound like a breeze as I peeled them off
their flesh now smoky gray and their skin
caramel gold blackened in spots

I arranged them on a large yellow plate
and showered them in lemon juice
Crystal Hot Sauce

this was a meal as quiet and serene as being the first one on the beach after the sun comes up
and hearing your feet squeak in the sand
I could describe the salad but for gods sake it was a salad

Respect is due the might anchovy!
who at the size of a child's finger
carries more unctious flavor
than a million marine giants
ten times the price per pound


1 comment:

J Dub said...

great blog!!!-me