Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Fish Soup Test, of Sorts

When I started this blog I understood that the only people reading it were my wife, myself, and maybe Deetrane every now and then. Somewhere along the line you started reading, but BrooklynLady stopped reading, I think. I hadn't given it much thought, but then when Marcus met BrooklynLady a little while ago, he asked her if she reads the blog. She politely demurred, reached for her coffee, and let the cacophony that is the Gorilla Coffee Shop crowd out her answer.

Does my wife read my blog? I don't think so, not often anyway. Do I want her to read it? Sure - I am proud of it, and so I want her to see this part of me. But I don't come right out and ask her because I don't want to pressure her into reading. I just want to know if she reads with any regularity, that's all.

Last night something happened that although repulsive, after the fact presented me with a (sick) opportunity to do a test, of sorts, that should reliably determine whether or not BrooklynLady reads my blog. And you, friends, get to watch and laugh, gasp, click your tongue, or experience whatever it is you experience when you read what I did...

I was making my Sardinian style fish soup (home made fish stock, leeks, fennel, tomato paste, chili flakes, clams, white-fleshed fish, fregola pasta, all of that good stuff) but I was using cod instead of the other seafood. I bought it at the farmer's market on Saturday and they recommended it as a fish that will hold up well in the fridge for a few days.

I made the soup, left it simmering, washed and cut the cod into chunks for the soup, and left it on the counter to come to room temperature. A few minutes before serving, I put the fish in the simmering soup so it cooks right before we eat it.

Brooklynlady goes to the gym, I put the baby to bed and come back to the kitchen to make a salad and warm some bread. I look over at my cod and I see thin white worms, maybe 5 or 6 of them, each about 3 inches long, hanging out on the plate, straining and swaying to the sounds of inaudible music. Need I tell you that I felt the blood drain from my face and the contents of my stomach rise?

What the f@#&, I ask, what the f@#&?!? How could the fish people at the market sell me contaminated cod like that? Great, no fish for the soup too, and I was going to leave it for BrooklynLady while I'm gone for a few days in Portland. What kind of worms are these, anyway? What would have happened to us had we eaten this cod?

I go to the computer and search for "worms in cod" on Google and the following results come up. Apparently, it's quite common, as cod are bottom feeders, and sometimes eat seal excrement, that sort of thing. Even if you don't remove the worms, they can't harm you if you cook the cod. Hmmm, common, and can't hurt me, eh?.

Armed with a paper towel, I carefully remove each of the worms from the plate, turning each chunk of cod over in my hands to make sure that nothing is squiggling. The plate is now free of worms, but wait - could there be eggs? Worms don't lay eggs, you idiot. But could there be tiny worms that I can't see? Back to the internet!

BrooklynLady comes home now and she is changing her clothes and washing up. "What are you reading?" she asks.

"Nothing honey, just looking at the newspaper. Ready to eat dinner?"

God help me, I put that cod into my simmering soup, let it cook a little extra long, and we ate it. I wouldn't use cod again for this soup - wrong texture - flounder is better. And I don't think I'm using cod again, period. For one it's over-fished, and secondly, white worms are very common. Let me tell you, pal, that I felt all sorts of pangs and oddities in my ribcage and guts after dinner. Was it the worms? Or was it the physical manifestation of the guilt I felt for serving my wife fish that once had writhing white worms in it, without her knowledge?

It's the next day and I'm still here to write about it, and honey - if you're reading this - I removed them, and they can't hurt you anyway. Honey? Are you out there reading this? Sorry about the worms! In fact, I apologize to all of you.


Jeff said...

That's hilarious, reminds me of the time the paprika turned out to be little black bugs crawling all over my food.

Anonymous said...

Goodness, but that's Dirty Pool, Brooklynguy! Let us know how it all turns out; the fish soup test is one only the bravest of men attempt.

Anonymous said...

1. You've convinced me to eliminate cod from my diet. I had no idea...

2. You must REALLY trust what you read on the internet.

3. I will certainly be curious to learn what your wife does if she reads, or hears of, this post. She goes to the gym, huh? Regularly? Works out with weights does she?

Brooklynguy said...

alright, you scared me Steve L and Scampy, as well as the others of you who emailed with warnings of caution. 'playing with fire" was my favorite. So I'm not waiting until I get back to throw up the next post. Let's see what happens...

Jeff said...

In case this is the last post you ever write (because your wife kills you) I just wanted you to know its been a pleasure reading your blog these past few months.

Anonymous said...

That's all pretty nasty -- but nasty in that sort of "gotta get all the details even though it grosses me out" nastiness. You know, that "urge", so it was a good post (and please follow-up).

You're less self-conscious than I am. I'm sure I eat food that has served as critter-highway all the time, but I prefer to live in imaginary world. I definitely would not have served the soup (for psychological and not physiological harm).

However, it looks like you didn't have to try to get your child to eat it, so you were spared from the additional pain of "look, Daddy eats it and it's delicious!".

Anonymous said...

first off, i'm sure you'll be ok physically. emotionally is another story...

i have a funny similar story. i was bartending in a restaurant, and the chef had bought a mess of fresh redfish that day. he blackened up a few filets for an order, plated them and right as the server was reaching for the plate I say "hey, whats crawling out of that fish?!" the chef looks over, plucks a worm out of it, just as another and another pop out and they start coming out all over both plates. it was a horror show in miniature, for both us and for the worms trying to escape the blackening process. well he just keeps plucking them off as fast as he can between his thumb and a chopping knife while motioning the server to take the plates out! i ultimately convinced him not to serve living organisms, but he wasn't happy about it.

apparently warm water fish are prone to parasites, and redfish almost always has them. while it's true that it's all just protein, i still haven't ordered redfish since. but then i see Anthony Bourdain or Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern where they eat anything from bugs to larvae to brains...so i guess i'm a hypocrite for preferring eat the flesh of more highly evolved creatures.

RougeAndBlanc said...

I can't help to put my 2 cents in here. worms in cods are nothing new (flounder also). I once saw worms making a break dance on a piece of cod roasting in the oven and my wife freakead out too.

I used to clean the worms before cooking cod, this his a how to:
a) hold the fillet in front of a light, you'll see dark circles in the meat - that is your worm
b) use a pair of tweaser and pluck the worm out and discard them

If you don't care about these worms, leave them in the fillet.
Worms in cod are just another form of protein and they are actually safe to be consumed.

I found out that cods caught from Stellwagon banks (calmer water) has more worms than those from Nantucket wrecks (fast moving current). The cleanest cod I have eaten actually comes from the deep water off the Maine coast. I fish and therefore I know.

Try hake (either red or white) or pollack next time, they are close cousins of cod and I have yet to find a worm in these 2 types of fish. More over, they are cheaper.

Bottom line - please tell Brooklynlady if she ever finds out about these worms that they are perfectly safe even though they are not pleasant to bee seen.

Joe Manekin said...

Cod worms! I second the comment above and reccommend that you try hake, or merluza as the spanish call it. Similar mild flavor and soft texture. But not for the soup.

Joe said...

Hah! My wife never goes near my blog - that is why I can freely make fun of her. My father-in-law, bro-in-law, sisters, etc. all read, but not the wife. Perhaps they are jealous of that special time you dedicate to your blog...;)

Brooklynguy said...

hey y'all - update - no word from the wife on this issue, even though our internet browser is set to this blog as a homepage. so i'm clear in that dept. and since this really isn't much of health issue (although to eat a living one, wouldn't that have to be dangerous?), i think this is pretty much case closed.

but it sure was gross, and your stories and anecdotes reflect that. but heavens no, Christian, my daughter doesn't eat fish soup yet. thanks for the pre-eulogy Jeff, for that horrible story Paul (i'm basically never eating in a restaurant again), and the helpful info Andrew and joe m.

and joe, i think you might have nailed it.