I have a confession – I am scared of fish. Not happy alive fish swimming in a river or cute little fish in aquariums. No, I mean the fish at the store that is staring at you with those lifeless eyes or the big bags of frozen shrimp. The fish on ice, those are the fish that make me walk quickly through the supermarket (here on base, we call it the commissary) and wrinkle my nose at the smell. So, I ask you, do you think I would enjoy cooking fish? Fairly obviously, you probably can guess the answer is no.
I was not raised eating fish. We didn’t even have fish sticks, which probably don’t even have all that much fish in them. My mom doesn’t really like fish, though she is trying. But fish wasn’t in her cooking wheelhouse while we were growing up, which means it isn’t in mine. At all. I was just telling Ben that I don’t even know how to tell when a fish is cooked, much less how to cook one.
Ben likes fish. When he is flying on the road, he spends a lot of time in the Pacific. He is always telling me about the sushi he had here, the tuna sliders he had there, and all sorts of things that I can’t imagine eating, let alone trying to cook. When I told him about not knowing when a fish is cooked, he laughed. He said it didn’t matter too much since you can eat most fish raw so if it’s a little under, no big deal. What?!? If I had any hopes of raising the courage to attempt cooking some fish, there it went, swimming away with the thought of “who cares if it’s a little raw.”
But, and there’s always a but, fish is so good for you! We are supposed to eat fish something like 2 or 3 times a week! That’s a lot of fish. A lot. Sometimes it’s hard to do things that are good for us when we don’t want to do them. Depending on the task, it could appear impossible. These challenges can arise anywhere in our lives. For a lot of people, myself included, taking the time to work out is hard. It’s something we all should do, but we find other things to do instead or make excuses about why we don’t have the time. Our bodies can suffer because of our lack of discipline in this area.
Another common area that gets pushed into the back corner of our life is prayer and church. What better time to do some shopping than on Sunday morning when everyone else is a church, right? Maybe not so much. At least based on what God asks of us, to keep holy the Sabbath. It’s interesting, whenever I talk to someone about church and they aren’t presently going, they are quick to come up with reasons why they are not attending. It’s as if there is some part of them that is saying, “Yes you have all these reasons why not to go, but you should probably figure out a way anyway.”
This is the voice in my head when it comes to fish. So, begrudgingly, and while grumbling under my breath, I headed to a grocery store that Ben says has quality fresh fish. I went to one of my trusted recipe websites, http://thepioneerwoman.com/. Everything she makes is simple, a bit rustic, and I have been able to execute well. So, I found this recipe for fresh halibut: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/10/bronzed-sea-bass-with-lemon-shallot-butter/. Technically, her recipe is for a piece of sea bass but she claimed that it would work with halibut too. I followed the directions and I’m pretty sure, though I guess there’s no way to know since Ben was gone at the time, if I actually cooked it all the way. And even if the fish wasn’t exactly perfect, smothering anything in a lemon butter sauce (I didn’t have shallots so I just left them out) has to be edible at least. The kids and I ate it – and I didn’t explode, implode or otherwise suffer injury. The kids didn’t either – John even asked for seconds! Crazy, if you ask me. Crazy good.
I’m excited to make this recipe again when Ben is home. I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence – I’m excited to cook fish. Me! The person who at the start admitted to being terrified of the thought. That’s how these things happen. We work up the courage to try something, even just once. We find a trusted guide, stay the course and relish the results. I can and should apply this lesson to other areas of my life – like getting proper exercise. I’m a work in progress, check back with me in a few months. Maybe others can glean some wisdom from my fish-scapades, maybe even gather the course to try church again, even just once.