And they did all eat, and were filled

My dad loved a nice piece of fish.

Pan-fried, or in the microwave for a minute, with lemon, garlic salt, and pepper. Mash some spuds, poach an egg, steam broccoli and carrots into limp oblivion, grind more salt over everything, and eat with joy. If he was going to buy fish at a restaurant, it had better be beer-battered with chips, or else pan-fried to his exacting standards. A second over the ideal cooking time would produce voluble scorn.

One of the enduring memories of my parents visiting me while I taught English in Japan is Dad walking with us through the wide streets of Hiroshima, complaining with increasing volume that all he wanted was a nice piece of fish, why didn’t any of these restaurants serve a nice piece of fish, it was all NOODLES and SOUP and RICE.

Me, pointing at an array of plastic sashimi dishes, arranged enticingly in a window: “Everything in that restaurant is FISH!”

He wasn’t convinced. We found a place that served steak.

I, also, love fish, but unlike my father, I am not confident in cooking it. I’ll eat smoked salmon on cream cheese toast for breakfast, or snack on sushi, or order fish and chips, and when I lived in Japan I bought both sashimi and cooked fish from the supermarket two or three times a week, but I can’t remember the last time I bought raw fish for the purpose of cooking it.

I might never actually have done that!

I’ve definitely contemplated it a few times, but I’ve always come up with a better plan at the last minute, one where I didn’t have to talk to a stranger and ask questions that revealed my ignorance about which fish was actually meant by a recipe’s direction for “any firm-fleshed white fish”. Like, how could I tell if it were firm without having to awkwardly make eye contact with someone? I didn’t think they would let me poke it.

Also, every recipe said things like “Cook until done (be careful not to overcook)”, which was profoundly helpful.


Monday’s recipe: Pan-fried fish with Sesame Rice and Miso-Dressed Salad.

Okay, so we’re doing this.

I got home late and starving, having stayed at work so that I could prepare an elaborate and risky lesson for a formal observation the next day, because what’s life without a little uncertainty?

Or a lot, you know, like just a lot of uncertainty, like endless oceanic forests of it, like razor-sharp uncertainty seaweed swirling up to catch your limbs and drag you under. What would life be like without that? Ha ha I’ll never know.

I ate a slice of cold cajun chicken pizza and a banana, and then, having probably ensured that I wouldn’t chew cardboard before dinner was ready, I got down to it.

Intimidating recipe

Intimidating recipe arranged on intimidating black stone plate: Nadia Lim. Mostly-drunk Negroni: model’s own.

Ingredients

The fish was a fillet of Blue Warehou, for those who know what that is.

I got the rice going – I was to add salt and sesame oil, then add black sesame seeds once it was all done. Noooo problem! I’m good at rice!

whisk until smooth

I had to stick miso paste, 2 teaspoons of lime juice (which I “juiced” by “squeezing” and “measured” by “not bothering”), some oil and something else I forget in a small bowl, then whisk until smooth. My whisk would not fit in the small bowl, but Nadia Lim used a fork, so I figured that would be fine. And it was!

So cooking was going great and every ingredient was an old friend, and then:

radish in the buff

RADISH. I was pretty sure I probably ate it. Nadia suggested I could either grate the radishes, or cut them into “matchsticks”. I grated each one until I was worried I’d hit the pads of my fingers, and then sliced up the rest.

grated radish is pretty

Grated radish is really pretty! Like mashed fairy wing!

even slices

Check out the incredible evenness of those cucumber slices. That’s how you know I’m nearly ready for Masterchef.

fish fries

YOU GUYS, I FRIED THE FISH. The timing said “1-2 minutes on each side, depending on thickness” which wouldn’t help me without a detailed analysis of the exact millimetre-to-cooking-minute ratio and maybe a helpful ruler printed on the packet, but in the end I only slightly overcooked it and I am going to count the whole meal a success.

my first food bag meal

It was delicious. The dressing was tart and salty, the fish firm and filling, the rice nice, and I definitely eat radishes. Also, I had plenty of rice and vegetables left over, which I accurately predicted would be great cold for breakfast.

vege and rice leftover

My first My Food Bag meal was a nearly perfect experience!

cleaning up

Oh, yeah. That.

Deliver (to) me

My weekend sure happened.

My sister stayed Saturday night on her way back to Oamaru, so on Saturday we spent a lot of time in my room 1) eating chocolate 2) watching Jane the Virgin and 3) farting. Then she went out with friends to watch the All Blacks play someone (Wales? I think Wales) and I stayed home to vacuum my floor with our disappointing vacuum cleaner. You know, sister stuff.

My flat has a washing machine, but not a dryer, and the laundry situation was getting dire. So while she was there, and driving, we also stuffed a bag and a laundry basket full of nearly everything that was lying on my wardrobe floor and took it to Sadie’s Laundry, who promised to wash, dry and fold it for me for “probably $25 to $30, love.”

This sounded very reasonable. I ignored the part where I had clutched the bag with my thighs and yanked on the zip to get it closed and decided to trust the expertise of the lady who had not seen just how much I’d managed to cram into the side pockets.

“Pick it up at about 1 o’clock tomorrow,” she said, which actually was a problem, because I had an all-day event on Sunday and also my sister wouldn’t be there to drive me across town and back. But the laundry smelled clean and cottony, and I was already imagining filling my drawers with neatly folded stacks of ready-to-go clothing.

“Sure!” I said.

The next morning my sister farted in my room one more time for luck, and then left to go and be fabulous and daring in Oamaru. I left to go to my all-day event – a One Day Project where various intrepid film people and actors (and me) planned to recreate three films lost to time based on their titles and whatever we could glean from Wikipedia.

I arrived a mistaken hour early, so I got to sit in my host’s kitchen drinking coffee and feeling shame and then walk around her house so that I could progressively stand in exactly the wrong place while she efficiently cleaned around me. It was less shameful when others arrived, and we started talking through the film concepts.

“This one should be like a fevered tone poem,” said the director. “I want it to be weird, lots of harsh lighting and dramatic reaction shots that escalate to hysteria, showing her final descent into sin.”

“I have to leave at noon to go pick up my laundry,” I said.

I took an Uber. Christchurch has Uber now. We’re very cosmopolitan.

There was a different expert lady at Sadie’s Laundry, but the clean and cottony smell was the same. “This was five loads,” she said, with an inflection that picked a fine path between appalled and impressed. “$56.”

“Oh,” I said.

“But I think $50 will be fine,” she said, graciousness itself.

“Oh,” I said. “Sure.”

Honestly, none of this should have been an issue or taken up any of my brain beyond a rueful acknowledgement (everyone makes mistakes about the time sometimes! the laundry takes as many loads as it takes and I have enough money to cover it!), but anxiety disorder means never having to say “no worries”. It’s all worries, all the time, about everything. I fretted about the earliness, and the laundry cost, and the ethics of Uber, and the selfishness of taking time out of a volunteer project to handle a life necessity all the way back to the film shoot.

Then I put on a heinous curly blonde wig, made up my face to look like I was dying of hectic consumption, composed myself in rakish array on a sumptuous drapery of lushly textured fabrics and acted the hell out of being a sneering spectator at a 20s brothel. It was totally worth it.

When I got home, seven hours later, I wrestled my laundry into the house over the neighbourhood cat that likes to pretend it lives here.

“No!” I said. “Go away!” Then, to the delivery man walking slowly up the driveway: “Not you: this damn cat.”

“Haha,” he said, unconvinced. “Are you Karen?”

I was! It was my first Food Bag!

MY FIRST FOOD BAG. It felt like a benediction.

gourmet fruits

The first thing I opened was the (additional) My Gourmet Fruit box. I do not think bananas are gourmet. I do, however, think they are delicious.

What is not delicious?

pineapple

Pineapple. Pineapple is not delicious. I took this sucker to school today and gave it to an office mate.

persimmon

I was WILLING to eat a persimmon, but I wasn’t quite sure how. I asked the internet.

persimmon twitter

The internet had advice. I peeled the persimmon, cut it into slices, and ate it. Nice, but more trouble than I am ordinarily willing to go to for tree candy.

Here is the MEAT BOX:

meats

teeny packets

And here are my promised teeny little packets of stuff!

I still do not understand why sweet chilli sauce is a staple and rice is not, though. As far as I was aware, rice is THE staple.