Okay, she didn't eat a human eyeball. This wasn't Survivor. Just a rip-roaring Saturday night out on the good town. But pictures of Branzino balls? Not so pretty.
And I would have and should have at least posted a picture of a discrete stand-alone eyeball because this might be sending the wrong message, but said pictures - even of cartoon eyeballs - made me want to gag a bit. Which is a sign of something unto itself. And so. We have here a very undisgusting sketch of the human eye. I quite like it.
But I digress. I have a story to tell. (And stories to coax from you.)
I already told you about my Saturday night. But I didn't tell you about an important part of the night. The part when my very good and very proper friend reached over and plucked the black beady eyeball out of the birthday girl's whole fish and then ate it. To be perfectly honest, I didn't witness the entirety of this event. When my eyeball-eating-friend flashed a mischievous grin and reached her fork across the table and said I will eat that eye, I may or may not have excused myself to go to the bathroom.
But she ate it. The eye of a fish.
Apparently, in some cultures, this is good luck. Dad was known to eat an eye or two in his day to shock us. But for me, someone who ducks for cover when they bring me a whole fish instead of pretty white filet and shivers at the sight of skin, this was a big deal. A big enough deal that I have chosen to devote an entire blog post to one ill-fated Branzino eyeball and what this late eyeball means to me.
I am an unadventurous eater. Once upon a time, I was pretty much willing to eat everything. Sure, when left to my own devices, I favored mayonnaise and white bread sandwiches and Sour Patch Kids, but I distinctly remember eating mussels and venison and rhubarb. And today I will not go near these and so many other things. (I am allergic to rhubarb, but no one believes me.) Today I won't even eat lobster which greatly offends some people I know. I am not the pickiest of eaters, but I like what I like. I am not good at tasting new things.
I am not an adventurous person. It occurs to me that how adventurous we are in our diet is connected to how adventurous we are in our lives. I don't think it is a coincidence that someone who avoids foods based on what they look like (I do not like fish that look like fish, anything with bones, sardines give me the willies) is also a person who is afraid of flying and non-organic dairy and most everything else.
This is not just a silly post about an eyeball. Well, it is mostly a silly post about an eyeball. But it is also more. These things matter. What we eat, how adventurous we are, how open we are - these things inform who we are. And then add kids to the equation and things get even more complicated. Our kids watch us. They watch what we eat. They watch what we don't eat. They notice when we run away from an innocuous fish on a plate. Or when we race the cart past the tank of lobsters at the grocery store. This is not just about us and our foibles.
This is about living life. The good life does not necessarily entail gobbling up eyeballs at swanky restaurants. But I think it probably does involve taking risks, trying new things, tasting new things. If we are so stuck in our (squeamish) ways, so appalled by novelty, are we truly living?
This is about eyes. Fish eyes, yes. But also our eyes. The way we see things and ourselves and the world. The way we absorb our moments. The way we process the hue of celebration and laughter. The way we perceive life. Emerson said, To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again. That moment when my good friend ate an eye? It was silly and beautiful. It was a unique picture I will not forget.
This is about stories. What is life without stories? Silly stories? Serious stories? We bloggers and writers and people? We are story-tellers, living our days, living our material, acting and reacting to the characters in our chapters. Our days are pages. Pages stuffed with words and questions and pictures. And each of us lives and loves and laughs toward an unknown conclusion.
So, yes, this is about one eyeball. But it is also about more. It is about the fraught and frivolous tapestry that is human existence. It is about adventure and aversion. It is about so many things. But instead of enumerating those things, I would like to sign off and go enjoy this serene snow day with my two tiny girls. They are still in their PJs and just on the other side of my office door. And before we play, before we dive into the books and boardgames that await us, I am going to tell them a silly story. A true tale. I am going to tell them that Mommy's friend at a fish eye. I anticipate smiles and silly faces and amazement and some brilliant laughter. We'll see what I get.
Okay, it's your turn. Tell me your craziest food story. It can be about you or someone you know or someone you saw on TV! What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten or seen someone eat? Are you an adventurous eater? Do you think there is a connection between bravery in diet and bravery in life? Are your kids good eaters or do they subsist on a diet of, say, chocolate milk and Veggie Booty? Just asking.