(I had 9 kinds of fish in my 17-course Bridal Shower Lunch….burrrrp)
So if you’re anything like me, you’re more in love with the idea of being Bengali than being in Bengal and for the awkward-est reasons I take immense pride and pleasure in associating my being Bengali with my love for fish, as cliché I may have ruled it at some earlier point in life. I have recently come to realize that it does take special blood and enzymes to consume and appreciate the consumption of fish that my creed does, every day. Here’s what Wiki says ” Fish cookery is one of its better-known features and distinguishes it from the cooking of the landlocked regions. Bengal’s countless rivers, ponds and lakes teem with many kinds of freshwater fish that closely resemble catfish, bass, shad or mullet. Bengalis prepare fish in innumerable ways – steamed or braised, or stewed with greens or other vegetables and with sauces that are mustard based or thickened with poppyseeds…Salt water fish (not sea fish though) hilsa (hilsa ilisha) is very popular among Bengalis, can be called an icon of Bengali cuisine.” But in the same logic, I am sure there are many, many other island cultures thriving on fish at a greater extent that Bengalis. I am trying very hard to discover them and learn as many fast delicious ways of combining fish and rice and potatoes, but lets just say I haven’t made much progress.
On a side track, one point I would like to raise before I delve into more taste, is the “Holiness” in the fish. I use that simply to show my respect for the flavor and has nothing to do with the Ichthys symbol (Jesus Fish) , anti-Darwinian or pro-intelligent design. With due respect to car-drivers and bumper-stickers of every faith, let me just say my Catholic School education taught me too much science to not believe in Darwin.
More on my relationship with fish will be back in a few.