by KATE HUNTER
Last Monday, my friend Lou asked me over for lunch, ‘We’ll be healthy,’ she said, ‘I’ll cook you an nice piece of salmon.’
‘Lou,’ I replied, ‘We’ve known each other since we were seven. Have you ever seen me eat fish?’
‘Oh my God!’ she said, ‘Are you allergic?’
‘No,’ I replied, ‘I just don’t like it.’
There was a silence. Lou couldn’t have been more shocked if I’d told her I was actually a man and had been since primary school.
‘What if I make a nice soy dressing?’
‘No, really. I’d prefer a cheese sandwich.’
‘How can you not like fish? Did you have some off sushi once? Maybe you choked on a bone?’ Lou persisted.
‘No. I just don’t like the taste. It’s so … fishy. It makes me gag.’
It was beyond her comprehension. To Lou, fish is a treat, a luxury. I’ve tried to appreciate it, but I can’t.
Sometimes people will offer me some white fish – saying it doesn’t taste fishy.
‘What’s the point of that?’ I say, ‘If it’s not fishy, why are we eating it? Even the most unfishy fish will be fishier than chicken, so can I have some of that please?
I hate being like this. It’s so unsophisticated to not like fish. I’ve been to barbecues where my hosts have splashed out on a whole side of salmon but I blush and say I’d prefer one of the kids’ sausages.
I’ve been Barramundi fishing in the Northern Territory but ate bread and salad instead of the day’s catch.
At a pinch, I can choke down a prawn, but an oyster is my worst nightmare. I see an oyster and all I think is, ‘ear infection.’
Who knows where this aversion to fish comes from? My parents are big on it. Mum even likes tinned fish, which to me is cat food with fancy labels.
My husband likes fish and our kids are keen. I’ve tried not to pass my fishism onto them, but I do most of the cooking so it’s rarely seen at our table. If I go away though, it’s a fish-fest at our place. Every night is like the seafood buffet at an RSL.
I’ve come to terms with the way I am. My husband and kids accept it – why can’t the rest of the world?
Jamie Oliver jeers at people who don’t like fish. In his second book, he refers to them as, ‘Cranky buggers who haven’t tried beautiful fresh fish, properly cooked.’
I love Jamie, but I sometimes want to smack him. I don’t care whether the trout is so fresh it’s still gasping for air as he pan fries it, it’s still a trout and its troutness is what I don’t like. So f*ck off, Jamie, and cook me a chop why don’t you?
Still, I realize the fault lies with me. Not the fish or the people who catch and cook them. It’s a failing; a flaw. It’s something I wish I could overcome, but at my age it’s unlikely.
I know it’s sad I get my Omega 3 from a capsule (odorless).
It’s a shame I’ll never be friends with the local fishmonger (as recommended by every food writer ever). But on that – the suffix ‘monger’ is rarely positive is it? … ‘Fear-monger’, ‘rumor-monger’. The fish marketing people should address this.
Not that it would help me.
All I’m asking for is understanding.
If I politely decline your offer of a grilled sardine, please don’t try to sell me on it.
If we eat at a sushi bar, it would be tops if you didn’t announce to the whole place that I’m sticking to the egg nigiri.
Not liking fish is a burden, yes, but I try to carry it with dignity.
Is there something you just can’t eat that most people love? How do you explain it?