Clash of the Titans XXXIX: Fish

July 31, 2007, 12:30 pm; posted by
Filed under Debate, Steve, Tom  | 3 Comments

In this corner, backing up the fish, is Tom!

And in this corner, standing against all things piscine, is Steve!

A miracle is, by definition, a very special thing. Whether the word is ascribed to the birth of a baby, the parting of the Red Sea, or a game winning 3-point shot at the buzzer that brings to an end to the deplorable savagery known as basketball, when something is genuinely described as miraculous you know to expect something wonderful.

Fish, my friends, are miraculous.

Their health benefits are many, but a cheap way of defending their honor. Rich in the good fats which keep us healthy, and poor in those that rob us of vigor, fish have innumerable benefits to either the modern lifestyle or the scrambling of the third world.

Flavorwise, I’ll admit fish is a complex mistress. An unsophisticated palate cannot always appreciate the individual tastes and scents that give fish its allure. I don’t feel indignation toward those who are unable to enjoy it; rather a sense of pity tinged with an obligation to try to show them another way. But those who despite my ministrations choose to overlook a slice of grilled salmon or broiled trout in favor of a mound of blasé mashed potatoes soaked with butter and clotted with salt find themselves at the business end of my disfavor.

However, the mark of a good meat is not merely its flavor. Texture plays a key role in the determination of an excellent piece of edible flesh. There, fish more than surpasses its land-based brethren. From the melt-in-your mouth flakiness of fried tilapia, to the delightfully soft but firm salmon sashimi, fish is a delight for more senses than merely taste and smell.

Relatively few foods can stake their claim as being mentioned in the Bible. Even fewer can claim to have been part of a genuine miracle. Fish, on the other hand, can claim both titles. When Jesus needed to feed the multitudes, He didn’t fry up a slew of goat. When the people, exhausted from having walked miles to hear the words of G-d directly from his lips, cried out for sustenance, He did not barbeque some beef or pork, or toss a salad brimming with the fruits of the ground.

No. He took the glorious fish from the hand of a boy, blessed it, and broke it. And it fed them all.

I’m a man of sometimes strong opinions, but I’m not altogether unreasonable. I recognize there are times and places when eating fish might be necessary. Times like day 19 after an oceanic shipwreck. Places like an underground bunker beneath the rubble of World War III.

But for everyone outside the plots of Waterworld and Mad Max, there is no reason to willingly eat these torpedo-shaped nausea makers. Fish oil may prevent heart disease and depression, but why torture yourself at the table when you can get the same benefit from a pill?

I know some people live where fish are the only real source of nutritious food. I feel awful for them, and I don’t wish to upset the precarious brainwashing they’ve had to put themselves through simply to survive. To those poor souls, I can send only my sympathy and a brochure for real estate in the American Southwest.

The rest of you are without excuse.

“You know what’s really good on fish?,” comedian Jim Gaffigan asks. “Anything that kills the taste of fish!” And it’s true! What’s the classic fish-eater’s claim? “Oh, it tastes just like chicken!” Even if this were true (it’s NOT), it wouldn’t help. Food, especially meat, should be appealing by itself! It shouldn’t have to rely on culinary subterfuge or taste deception, designed to hijack goodwill from a wholly unrelated meat to sneak its scaly flesh past our wise and knowing tongues. Food should stand on its own two feet!

But then, fish don’t have feet, do they? There you go.

You know what fish are good for? Metaphors. You can “flounder” or “flop around” like a “fish out of water.” You can “get a nibble” or “get off the hook,” then choose to “fish or cut bait.” You bemoan the “fish that got away” till you remember there are “plenty of fish in the sea.” You might be a “fisher of men” or you may “shoot fish in a barrel,” “teach a man to fish,” or go on a “fishing expedition” — but remember houseguests, “like fish, stink after three days.” Linguistically, fish do it all! Their contribution to our literary lexicon is unquestioned.

So let’s keep fish on our pages and off our plates.



3 Comments to “Clash of the Titans XXXIX: Fish”

  1. David on August 2nd, 2007 4:34 pm

    I noticed that the top advertised Tom as being in opposition to fish and Steve defending fish and yet you took the opposite positions. Was this done intentionally?

  2. Steve on August 2nd, 2007 5:23 pm

    Nope! This is what happens when I go to work! Let me fix it now.

  3. David on August 3rd, 2007 11:51 am

    I thought maybe it was a psychological experiment. When I was in college someone started their speach in a COMM class with “I wan’t to explain why abortion should be legal for everyone and anyone all the time”. Then they gave the opposite speech deploring abortion as murder and asked for questions. Immediaitely hands shot up every where with people wanting to blast them for supporting abortion–which they didn’t support at all. I thought you might be psyching us out somehow.

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