Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

Dipping Exquisite Sea Monsters in Garlic Butter

by | Feb 26, 2024 | Parenting | 0 comments

Adventures at the best fish market in the Bay Area (22/40)

My oldest daughter, Jovie, loves salmon.

Recently she asked me for it.

Luckily, in town, we have an amazing fish market, Anna’s Seafood. It is probably one of the best in the Bay Area, according to all the city folks who make the line to buy crab on New Year’s Day longer.

Anna, the fishmonger and owner of the market, has a dedicated fleet of fishermen who catch fish every morning.

I took Jovie and Amélie to get some.

Now, I don’t typically cook the salmon. I mean, I can. But when Jovie asks me for salmon, she wants it in a specific way, and there is a specific sequence of events: Jovie asks for the salmon, I buy it, her grandma cooks, we eat the salmon, I alone eat the skin (fools!), we discard the leftovers, and we come full circle on the circle of death of the salmon.

I do all of my chores with my daughters. It is a way for me to spend time with them and get things done. But I do a whole PR campaign on chores:

  1. I call them adventures.
  2. I pack the car with books and snacks.
  3. I let them choose a song after my songs.

Lately, they haven’t let me choose anything and taken complete control over my radio.

When I go into Anna’s, as a grown adult, I have a hard time with it. All the fishes are looking at me accusatorily from the see-through fridge and saying with their eyes, “If it wasn’t for your patronage of this barbaric practice, I would be at home playing catch with my son Nemo!”

Which I’m sure is what all sons are called in the ocean.

So, I was curious to see how my daughters would react.

I walked in, and after the first bend of the line, we came face to face with crab kings; I walked two steps and realized I was by myself. I looked back, and Jovie was holding Amelie’s hand, and they were pressing their bodies against the glass of the king crabs. Above the king crabs was the tank for the lobsters, who looked like they were doing the floss. Something that would’ve scared me at their age had my daughters completely entranced.

One of my earliest memories is being two on a beach near Fort Lauderdale, stepping into the water and quickly stepping into a crab. I didn’t know it was a crab. I was told it was a crab. All I remember was something holding onto my big toe and the blood that came after someone pulled that thing off my toe.

The nerve on that crab. It wasn’t better for me down where it was wetter. Take it from me. Once it was tossed, it probably joined his under-the-sea jazz band for a jam session — that’s right, third Disney reference today.

The lobsters I met later in life. I was maybe six or seven, and I was visiting my grandfather in Cartagena. My grandfather lived one block from the ocean in a neighborhood called “Castillo Grande.”

The house had two floors and one giant winding staircase. In the middle of the dining room was a big baroque-like painting of a baroque-like metal plate with four five live lobsters wiggling in it. I had not come face to face with these creatures, but the chiaroscuro somehow managed to make them even more terrifying.

What made it even scarier was that at least twice, I saw cockroaches coming out from behind the frame of the painting. The roaches you can only see in this tropical weather, you know, the ones the size of designer dogs, with wings and infrared vision. The type that would walk over humanity after WWIII.

I honestly thought the painting was a portal to a nest of cockroaches.

I hated that painting. It scared the shit out of me.

One of my aunts is obsessed with family history, so I knew she would be the right person to ask if she remembered the painting and, if she did, if she knew the story behind it.

She not only remembered it but also told me how it was painted by her best friend’s father, who was a Spanish artist.

My grandmother fell in love with the painting at an art auction in Cartagena’s city hall. The painting eventually had the sold tag on it, and my grandmother felt disappointed. The painter approached my grandparents and told them the painting was theirs. What a gift, the gift of nightmares and childhood trauma. My grandfather gave my aunt the painting because of her friendship with the painter’s daughter. She sent me a picture of it, which is just as terrifying. Who would hang that thing in their living room?

I feel like I would run fast from the dining room to the kitchen, as I did when I was a kid, from the staircase to the kitchen in my grandfather’s house.

I don’t tell my daughters any of this or make a big deal out of the fact that they are mesmerized by these devil creatures that happened to be delicious with garlic butter.

I chose my salmon, and I went to pay. My daughters slipped from my hand and, hand in hand, went back to marvel at the king crabs and the lobsters.

I tell them it is time to go, and I’m just thankful that I don’t have to look at the face of my salmon. I have had enough of one day of staring at delicious sea monsters and past trauma.


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