FISH SOUP

The title alone will make most Iranians gag and vomit: for except the people living in the two sea strips at the north and the south of our country (otherwise known as the belly and the back of the cat) , we desert people can bear fish only if it is fried to a crisp, with plenty of seasoned flour to disguise its fishy taste. Even oven-baked or roasted fish is often viewed with deep suspicion, if not actual loathing and disgust.

But I have blood of the northern sea in my veins, plus I am a real immigrant-travelor. I despise those of my compatriots who spend years and years counting the minutes till they get a Canadian visa, and then squat in a Toronto flat, crying out their hearts for their maman’s kashk-e bademjan and ghormeh sabzi, asking for dried herbs from Iran so they can recreate these dishes in the clammy climate of Canada. Come on people, get a life! Can’t you remember how sick you were of your maman’s cooking, how you preferred to stuff yourself at the local fast-food and feel free rather than submit to her complicated, difficult dishes which tasted of labour, toil, and eternal patience with unruly children? Why not embrace the cooking of your new city, and try fish soup, also known as “clam chowder”? Or even bouillabaise? (I can’t even pronounce. despite the waiter repeating it twice). Halifax is proud of its seafood restaurants and dishes.

Clam chowder is not that bad, and your after-dinner burpings smell of the ocean, bringing a whiff of exotica to an otherwise grey grey office. Clams are a kind of north American shellfish (yes! America! So it can’t be that bad if the Americans it eat, ok?). Clam chowder, which I had today for my lunch, was a  creamy soup with some pale flecks of parsely, lots of cubes of potatoes, and some tiny tiny squidgy things which I suppose were the clams. The smell said seafood more loudly than the taste, to be honest. Bouillabaise, which I had a fancy restaurant one weekend, was a small bowl filled with strips of carrots, onions and other vegetables, also three mussels in the black shells, two pieces of fish, and three boiled shrimps, all swimming around in an orangey (supposedly saffron) base.

More adventurous, and a helluva lot more expensive than my daddy’s abgousht, no?

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