Vacation. A time (and different place) when you remove yourself from the daily routines of life. A time to relax and maybe try new things. Wiseguy and I are in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. There is no snow (me doing BIG celebration dance). We are baking our pale skin in the sun so we become a nice golden brown. We swim in the salty ocean. We do things that we don’t normally do at home. Our routine is pretty consistent. There are no big adventures or escapades for us. It’s sleep, eat, swim, eat, nap, eat. Yes there is much eating on this, our winter escape vacation. For me it’s even more exciting as the abundance of seafood has me in awe. I LOVE seafood.
I am unsure of when my tastebuds first discovered the delectable pleasure of digesting water creatures. My parents grew up in a village in Croatia. Sure it was a 15 minute drive to the sea, but they weren’t seafood lovers. My father is a true carnivore with a hefty sprinkling of vegetarian. If he MUST have floater food then he might crack open a can of anchovies (weird but true). I joyously recall the first time I ate crunchy fried smelts. Sure, some of you call this fish bait, but to me they are similar to French fries. Yummy! My mother was delightfully surprised to see that one of her four children shared her seaworthy palate.
The next Friday (official “eat fish” day at our house) there were these caramel-coloured rings sitting on the table. Sure there was also battered cod fish (for those with the blander taste buds in our family), but my mother’s eyes fixated on mine as she winked over at me to try this ring of fried goodness. As I slowly moved fork to mouth, my lips curled around the deep fried treat and my teeth crunched into this new culinary delight. My tastebuds sang with joy! What was this? My mama read my mind. With a twinkle in her eyes she said “calamari” aloud. One of my siblings said “yuck that’s squid!” Huh…squid. I didn’t care. I loaded up my plate with this exquisite new food discovery. So it began.
My seafood journey was and is a long and slow one. My dear husband prefers the boring cod. I got him to try shark once. He has been brave enough to take a bite of grilled salmon. Yes he tried. No good. “Rubber” rings of calamari are just as bad to him. Tuna stinks. Shrimp are the wrong colour and definitely a horrible texture. Clams are white blobs that slither down your throat. Lobster! Ah the Creme de la Creme of the seafood world…are unpalatable and indigestible to Wiseguy. As Jim Gaffigan prefers to call them: sea bugs. Crabs make my hubby crabby. Smell and flavour, or as my spouse prefers to refer to it as stench and slime, will never win over my main man.
So here we are abroad, surrounded by water, and my seafood dreams have come true. Every appetizer menu section is a dancing list of seafood. Main courses consist of former water dwellers. I am in seafood heaven! Lobster and shrimp and crab cakes… Oh my! I have devoured crab cakes 4 days in a row now. Their crunchy outside yields to a soft, velvety centre. Even when we arrived at the resort they had wee little appetizer scoops of ceviche in the lobby. Actually hubby and I walk through the lobby every afternoon at the same time so I can devour at least three helpings. Fresh seafood is incredible!
In some ways I feel a little sad for those who cannot experience what my tastebuds are experiencing. Oh sure they can shove shellfish in their gullet, but the joy is not there. I compare my seafood feasts to having a large rich morsel of decadent chocolate cake. Don’t understand? How about tearing into prime rib or rib eye steak…juicy and succulent. Still nothing? How about a cheesy and creamy big bite of lasagna? Well whatever makes your tongue sing hymns of food praises THAT is what bite after bite of seafood is like for me. It may sound strange and perhaps slightly obsessive, but after all it is for the love of…seafood. Bon appetit!