We're home now. The holiday is over. But there's enough sand in the laundry basket to remind me of what a great time we had at the beach.
I want to tell you a little something about my friend Kian over at Red Cook. A warning, in case you all become friends with him - if he's at your house, and your kid's goldfish dies in the bowl, it's better you don't mention it to Kian because while you're considering how to embark on the inevitable "circle of life" talk you're going to have to have and your kid is drying her tears and writing the eulogy you'll all be saying over the toilet bowl, Kian will be in your kitchen gutting and grilling the little guy and serving it to you with a glass of good chardonnay.
The man will cook anything. I have two examples for you just from this holiday weekend. And the pictures to prove it. Here we go:
This is Kian eating. You can't miss him because he's Chinese. The other one is Warren.
Warren is Kian's partner and he spent a good deal of time this weekend trolling the shallow waters for little crabs, anemone and any shells that might house small edible vermin and then, like a small child with a fistful of weeds, held them up to Kian expectantly in the kitchen, with an expression of pure joy and then, Kian, like the dutiful Mommy, smiled and whipped Warren's scavenging into some kind of gourmet treat.
Seriously, if it wasn't bolted to the ocean floor or covered in barnacles, Warren was dragging it into the kitchen. This time, Warren brought home "Conch".
Or as I like to call it, "Slug".
And so Kian, like he was in some episode of "The Next Food Network Star" whipped up Conch Fritters. Because this is what you do when life gives you Conch...you make Fritters.
David liked the fritters (he made a small carb concession here, holiday and all that)and then he made the mistake of asking me what they were made of and I told him all about Warren with his pants rolled up around his knees and wearing his funny hat, pulling conch shells out of the shallow ocean and how Kian yanked the slugs out of the shells, all wiggling and screaming, and chopped them up finely and how they were kinda like escargot. And it was a nice story, I thought.
And I was just getting to the fritter part of the story when David made the biggest vomit face I've ever seen and said, "You have to tell me what's in these things!" and then he wiped the inside of his mouth with a baby wipe a lot.
When dining with Kian it's always best to not ask any questions, just eat.
I took some pictures of the Conch Fritters, but I think Kian downloaded them onto his computer and not mine, so go to his site and bug him to post the recipe and the pictures. They look completely normal and yummy, if you don't know what's inside them.
And then, there's the shark...
The kids get credit for finding this guy dying in the shallow waters in front of the beach house, but really, I found him first, and me and this other guy picked him up and tried to help him swim away, but the poor little guy had a huge hole in his head and he was scraped down the back of him and as a group of kids, fishermen, curiosity seekers and casual onlookers gathered around him, like they were watching a terrible accident on the highway, it was pretty clear he was on his way out.
Here are the gawkers, the lot of 'em. You'd think they had just gotten back from hunting the big cats in Africa.
This is the part where Lucy got all melancholy and I had to explain to her that the shark was dying and that we were going to bring him out to sea and let him die peacefully and that other fish would eventually eat him and this was "the circle of life" and then, Lucy seemed satisfied with this and noted that the shark was dead just like Murphy The Cat and maybe Murphy The Cat and the shark would be friends. But she wanted to stop looking at the shark and so we walked back to the house.
This was all fine until someone happened to mentioned to Kian who was chopping up slug in the kitchen, that a shark, so fresh that it was still in the throes of death, had washed ashore. It was like we had mentioned a 50% off sale at Williams Sonoma, because Kian dropped his butcher knife and was off down the beach like a shot and the next thing you now, he's fishing dying shark out of the water and contemplating shark steaks for dinner.
Look at him. He's butchering the fish in his mind.
This is when Lucy starts to wimper. Not cry exactly, but she's looking pretty sad and confused. And I think if she sees the fish being gutted, it'll send her into a life of veganism and because I don't want her to be palate-less and make people cook her special meals at dinner parties (Just joking vegan readers. I love ya.) I decide she's not ready to see "the circle of life" up close, so she goes to play on the beach with Edie and David and I shoot pictures of the slaughter in the kitchen, which is funny 'cause we are on Slaughter Beach at the time.
Slaughter. Get it?
Anyhoo, here is Kian disemboweling the shark. It is in fact dead at this point, so please do not call PETA. Thank you.
Here is the shark's decapitated head. Nice.
All meat. Nice and clean.
The stink of all the organs being pulled out of the body has subsided a bit, so now the gawkers come back to the kitchen to watch the easy part of the butcher.
This is where Kian gets all excited and starts talking about how "fresh" the fish is and putting it to his nose and smelling it and passing the carcass around the room asking people to take a whiff.
To which I reply, "Yes Kian, it's fresh. It was alive like two minutes ago."
Yeah, so, Kian actually saves the shark head for broth. You gotta have a mighty big pot for that thing, don't ya think?
If you were wondering, I did not actually eat the shark steaks, although I believe they were grilled with a little salt, pepper and olive oil, and as I hear it, they were pretty good.
Call me a wuss, but I just couldn't eat Murphy The Cat's friend in front of my kid.
PS Kian, I love ya, but I'm not letting you anywhere near the aquarium...