Posted by: stillironic | May 17, 2010

Cooking Is Dangerous to My Health (Part 2)


The béchamel sauce for the spinach and kale au gratin was ready. Except it tasted bland. Its whole purpose in being was to provide a stage upon which all the other ingredients could play their role.

By now I was tired and my hand hurt. I guess this was why it didn’t fully register that the players in this dish—spinach, kale, and garlic—stood a poor chance of putting on any but a lackluster performance.

Meanwhile, JJ was admiring the eye of the fish, a sheepshead, he’d brought home to grill. The eye was clear as glass. The type of fish, however, was suspect. Neither of us had heard of it. When I vetted it on the web, opinions varied.

Website 1: “It’s a junk fish.”

Me: Not surprising, since it was only $1.99/lb.

Website 2: “It tastes delicious, but is hard to catch.”

Me: Well, if it’s hard to catch and people are still making the effort to catch it, it must be worth catching. No?

So JJ threw the fish on the grill.

By this point the gratin, snug in its Pyrex dish in the oven, had almost finished baking.

Getting it there had been a production. Which involved wrapping the steamed greens in a dishtowel and squeezing the excess water out by twisting the ends of the towel—luckily I had one clean dishtowel left in the drawer or I would’ve had to sacrifice one of JJ’s torn undershirts. This activity—again not hand friendly and further proof that I’m challenged when it comes to choosing recipes—produced two big green blobs, which had to be chopped. So I chopped the blobs, sautéed some garlic, and tossed the whole kit and kaboodle together. Once tucked in its pan, it received a sprinkling of grated cheese.

Now fish usually grills up in a jiffy. But apparently this doesn’t hold true for sheepshead. We found out why when we took our first bites. The fish, which looked delicious, had the consistency of rubber and the flavor of rubber basted with olive oil and herbs. We both tried to choke down a few more bites. JJ praised the gratin. But when he gave up on the fish, I noticed he hadn’t eaten most of the gratin either. I found the gratin characterless. At least it was edible.

We ended up stuffing the fish down the garbage disposal. The next night when we had hamburgers for dinner, JJ couldn’t eat the gratin. It reminded him too much of the fish, he said. I vowed never to cook again.


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