Thursday, February 24, 2011


Dash was sick for almost a week. He found his way into my bed every night, writhing, crying, and moaning. We would fall asleep in fetal position, back-to-back, connected at our sacrums. I wanted my Dash back. When he is sick he won't eat anything.

When he got better I bought him a present of 20 oysters.
"These are the present? These, mama? Really?" He stared me down. "I wanted a toy." He picked up an unshucked Kumamoto and licked it. "This moister tastes like the ocean." 

Moisters. Perfect. 

"They're still alive, Dashi. They were pulled out of the water this morning."

"Oh mama. When I die I want to be with you. Okay?"

"Dash, I don't know what happens when we die."

Actually I think I do know. But I'm trying not to force atheism down his throat.  I shifted the focus to the challenge of opening one of the oysters.
He asked for help. He clasped his hands to his chest in anticipation.
I showed him how to fold over a napkin and protect his hand while using the oyster knife. We angled the knife at 45 degrees and inserted the tip into the corner of the oyster. Jiggle, jiggle, and then joy as the tip slid in. And then we pried open this magnificent bivalve mollusk.

So much to discuss. Colorless blood. Three-chambered heart. Shifting gender. Potential for pearls.

No hesitation from Dash. No mignonette needed. This living breathing creature from the ocean went right into his mouth. Salt water dribbled down his chin.
"Mama, I wanted  a toy. But I do like what's inside these shells. I like the inside of the present." Much like the sardines he ate the week before, I chose not to mention that he was eating something very good for him. I'm getting really good at keeping my mouth shut.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Dash likes to poke my chest and say, "Mama, your bones are beneath your skin." Somehow it's comforting to know what I'm made of.

We bought a pile of fresh sardines that came from Monterey Bay to see what they were made of. Dash leaned in for a thorough examination. He couldn't feel the bones by poking the fish.
When Dash is learning something new, his shoulders creep up to his ears and he holds his breath. I often find myself holding my breath with him. It's such a relief when he finally exhales. 

"Phewwwwwww. Mama. Look at those eyeballs. Can I lick one?"

I couldn't think of a reason why not.
"The fish aren't real when they're dead, right?"

I tried to connect the dots a bit between life and death. "Yes,  Dash, the fish are real. Even when they're dead. Someone killed them and we're choosing to eat them." He didn't hear a word. He was spinning around and totally tuning me out. So we focused on what he could follow. Cooking.
These were huge sardines. But the fish guy told me we could eat everything (guts, eyeballs, bones and all). I smothered the whole fish in garlic, wine, capers, lemon, parsley, and bread crumbs. They cooked in about 8 minutes. Then we tore the fish apart with our fingers and scooped up the yummy sauce with some gooey country bread.

Along with the flesh of the fish, we ate some intestines, some bile, and some eyeballs.

"Yum," sighed Dash. "I love this dish. Except for the bones."

printable recipe

You can marinate the fish for a few hours or overnight. Put the bread crumbs on right before cooking. If you grill the fish, leave off the bread crumbs.
serves 2
  • 10-15 sardines (beheaded, gutted, and filleted if you wish)
  • salt 
  • pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated or chopped
  • 2 anchovies, chopped
  • juice/zest from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons capers plus a bit of brine
  • 1/4 cup white white
  • 1 cup San Marzano-style diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 green onions, finely sliced (white plus a bit of the green)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 450° F. Place whole sardines in a baking dish (skin down if gutted and filleted).  Season with salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine garlic, anchovies, lemon juice/zest, capers, white wine, tomatoes, olive oil, parsley, and green onions. Spread the mixture all over the fish.  Sprinkle bread crumbs all over the top. Place in the oven. Check them after 3 minutes. They're done when the fish is just past translucent. The sardines will cook really fast, especially if they're small. Eat right away with bread and a salad.