Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dinner, a show of the cycle of life

Friday was a day with all sorts of visitors; A little girl selling bread for 25cents, people from the neighborhood coming to walk the back path, and a fisherman. A fisherman that reeled in a good catch of fish pulled up in his cayuco (a hollowed out tree that looks like a longer canoe). "$1.50/pound" I was told by the workers, who where buying their dinner from him. Seabastian pulled out a good tuna from the bunch and it was gutted right there in the water at the side of the cayuco. I looked at Seabastian and asked "You're helping me cut it, right?". I've never actually cooked fish on my own before. One of the great things about becoming vegetarian when you're younger, all meals are meat free and easy, no need to worry about under-cooking and causing various food poisoning. So, there we were in the kitchen, him slicing the tuna into two fillets. I commented on how pretty the fish looked, "Ai, que bonito" "Es porque se llama bonito. Tambien dice tuna". After the fillets were in a deep dish, the head, spine, and tail had another destination. We walked out towards the back of the property to the freshwater pond. "This goes to the caimans" he said, then threw the bloody remains into the pond, "Shhhhh, wait"he instructed. We stood there looking, me not quite sure I wanted to see what was to happen next. A Caiman quickly came out of his space and I got to watch as it slowly swam towards the fresh food. Dipping itself under the water to find its catch, it's long tail peaked out. I had seen the smaller ones before but never one this big. We just stood their on the very edge of the pond as the fish remains dangled from it's mouth. "You're sure they don't come out of the water?" I asked again.
"They just eat birds that land in the pond and maybe come out at night, maybe"
"But they don't eat humans?"
"Not that I've heard, not the ones here"
The caiman retreated to its home in the back of the pond. The cycle of life has a higher turnover rate in the jungle. I loved that no part of the fish was wasted. I looked up five tuna recipes and adapted one to what I had and knew I liked. I still had some cayanne pepper (A spice I travel with because I hate to be without) which I added to the garlic, onions and coconut oil. When it was time for dinner I put the fillets in a frying pan, three to four minutes each side and it was awesome! I made fish! It's the first time I've eaten every morsel of fish that's on a plate not made by my Abuela. Dinner was really an experience, buying a fish just recently caught from the fisherman, my waste getting happily eaten by another animal and then eating my piece within a few hours of cutting it up. I'm sure I'll be making more fish while I'm out here, especially when it comes fresh right to my "door".

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