Fish was never the issue. I like fish, and I don’t have a problem with fins or gawpy faces. But it was crustaceans I couldn’t do. Lobsters, crabs, prawns… they were – well – a differen’t kettle of fish…
I think a good part of my dislike for crustaceans – be it under my feet or on my plate – came from early childhood trauma. It was an incident which lingered like the smell of dried-up rockpools on a sunny beach. I remember sitting in a deep puddle of water as the sun sank, having come fresh from the cold waves. The pool was warm and I dug my hands blissfully into the sand at the bottom, lifting it up, and letting it slide through my fingers and slop back in with a splash. And there it was: a monstrous crab, cradled in my raised palm, legs wriggling and claws snapping. Naturally, I screamed the cliffs down.
So yes, that was enough to put me off anything with an exo-skeleton. I couldn’t go in the sea without donning a sturdy pair of protective shoes for precaution, let alone tuck into a pint of prawns at the pub. And besides, I just didn’t like the taste. Staring into the beady eyes of a little alien shrimp – with all it’s spindly legs – just wasn’t worth the strange-textured meat hidden away inside. And I wasn’t alone: lots of children, I’m certain, would have had pincer-related nightmares after visits to seafood restaurants. Who can blame them?
The good news is that, thanks to the combined efforts of my big sister (who once shared my fears, partly due to her eye-witness experience of the above event), and my Canadian boyfriend (who has always loved the stuff), I’ve evolved into the biggest lover of seafood I know. Legs, shells, fins – I’m yet to find something I don’t enjoy. Granted, however, I haven’t tried oysters yet..
The pinnacle of my seafood journey was reached during my recent visit to Canada with afore mentioned boyfriend. The lovely people over there have a long-established restuarant chain known as Red Lobster. We arrived, sat down to bottomless drinks and complimentary cheese ‘biscuits’ (over there meaning delicious savoury scone-type-things), each ordered an ‘Ultimate Platter’ of our choosing, and proceeded to have one of the best meals I have ever eaten. Maybe even THE best. Big words I know – but it was just so darn good.
So yes, in a year I have transformed. I order moules-frites at gastro pubs, lobster at Big Easy (if you’re in London, I recommend), and kings prawns are now a freezer staple.
And now, I must live my life wondering with hungry anticipation when my next chance to have Red Lobster coconut shrimp might be.