This Dead Zone has not even gotten out of May, but I have already slid into my annual response to the age-old question, ‘What do people do on Saturday mornings when they are not traveling to football games?’
In my case, my weekend starting routine involves a breakfast of a bagel slathered with cream cheese and topped with smoked salmon. It fortifies me for a Saturday morning of hunting and gathering. My methods of procuring sustenance are a little more refined than those of Cro-Magon man.
Rather than venturing out into the wild and chucking a spear into the side of some mammal, I begin my quest for Gimme Eat at my local farmer’s market. That will be followed by an arduous trek to the roadside stand on the outskirts of town run by an older local couple who, unlike any chain food retailer, have figured out how to transport tomatoes from Florida to the Southside of Virginia in an edible state. Stops will also be made at a local market whose specialty is the offering of meats cut from the carcasses of local cows and a few other places that vend a variety of items produced by local and regional farms. Between now and that Friday morning in early September when I will find myself heading south on I-85 in the direction of Atlanta, I am able to greatly reduce my reliance on what I perceive to be the lesser quality of the foodstuffs offered by my local mega-mart and that corporate partner of the ACC that has blanketed my area with stores.
My journeys always end at a local fish monger. When I eat red meat, I do prefer the primer cuts and a freshness not to be found from that food chain that owns the lion’s market share locally, but the fact is I don’t eat a lot of it. The same goes for pork. While food science over the past few centuries has proved itself incapable of coming up with a critter that I prefer served up with scrambled eggs and my desire for occasional binges on barbecue prepared in the Eastern North Carolina method [those folks can come up with something other than message board humor], otherwise I don’t eat dead pig.
I do, however, eat a lot of fish and anything else that can be harvested from waters both salty and fresh. If it has scales, or resides in the bottom of the ocean, carries a hard shell and its consumption is prohibited by some of the world’s major religions [I might take them a lot more seriously were it not for the whole shellfish thing. What manner of divine power says no to a plate of steamed shrimp?], I’m eating it by the pound.
Like my slaughtered cow, I prefer my dead fish and crustaceans to be of a higher quality than can be obtained from the chains. That means a Saturday morning stop at the fish monger’s. I was quick-timing it to the front door when my attention was diverted by an attractive young lady. It often is, although in this case I quickly determined that she was entirely too young for my tastes [there is young and there is too young- young ladies about half my son's age definitely fall into the latter category]. I was, however, intrigued by her message. She was earnestly imploring me not to “murder the sea kittens.” Pardon me?
Statements such as that are guaranteed to stop me in my tracks. My appointed round of reducing Lynn’s display case inventory would have to wait. While chatting with this young lady I discovered that PETA, those sane, level-headed crazies who are gearing up for another round of kicking Michael Vick around like a stray mutt, have even bigger fish to fry.
It seems that PETA has determined that the world’s most pressing problem is not the tribal wars going on in places such as Africa and the Middle East, or the threat of North Korea selling a nuke to some madman who doesn’t eat crab legs, but the horrors humanity visits upon underwater species by plucking them from the deep and devouring them. The humanity!
PETA’s solution to this mass genocide is to no longer call fish fish. Instead, PETA is demanding that the government change the name of the creatures that look a lot like fish, swim around under water like fish and are indeed fish, to ‘sea kittens.’ I kid you not. The idea apparently is that people by the hundreds of millions will balk at consuming anything with a cute-sounding name. As the young lady put it to me, “How can you eat an adorable sea kitten?”
In the case of the tuna steaks that were among my later purchase, marinated in fish sauce, garlic and ginger, then pan-seared rare and served with wasabi, that’s how. The young lady was not impressed, and was even less so with my responses of whether I ate the wares for sale inside or not would do litle to improve their lot, since they were already dead. She was aghast at my argument that there was a food chain and I was perfectly content with my place in it and recoiled when I pointed out that were the situations reversed, the original owner of the portions of shark flesh inside that had my name on them would not have given a second thought to chowing down on me. And besides, they taste good.
Neither of us were able to change the other’s point of view and I eventually headed inside to purchase the week’s bounty of sea kitten. I did manage to discover that the young lady attended the same high school as I had decades before. She had a favorite teacher who is a strong supporter of PETA and doesn’t hesitate to indoctrinate her charges in whatever lunacy pops into the mostly empty heads of those running that crowd of loons. I spent 12 years in the Pittsylvania County school system and never once did a teacher attempt to convince me that fish were cats. Back then they were more interested in educating young minds than filling them with the latest nonsense du jour. This young lady had swallowed it hook, line and sinker.
There are times when it is not hard to determine how the current deplorable state of public education came about. This was one of those times. Now, you will excuse me. I am having sword sea kitten for dinner and have to whip up a marinade.