To this day, I am still incredibly thankful that Mom and Dad never made us go to camp. There was one year when we voluntarily spent two weeks at a Quaker camp in northern Bucks County—and loved it. The following year all its rustic charm had worn off, I decided I hated it. Maggy seemed lukewarm (at best) about the whole thing. God bless our parents, they never made us go back.
From then on, Mom and Dad started taking us on their vacations. Summer camp, group showers, mediocre food, and yarn crafts . . . versus month-long trips to France, adventures in Italy, hiking in Nova Scotia, biking and kayaking in Maine. Not exactly a Sophie’s Choice. However, if I had chosen communal cabin sleeping, ropes courses, and awkward ‘talent’ shows over the exotic allure of foreign travel, I would still love salmon.
On one of our most memorable trips to France, I think I was 12 and Maggy was 14. Mom had planned an elaborate adventure through Provence, Paris, and a handful of other regions. It had been about a year since Maggy indignantly informed our parents that she would no longer be eating red meat. I, the dutiful and adoring younger sister, had piped up assuring them that I, too, would no longer be enjoying the likes of hamburgers, sausages, and steaks. Maggy had loads of reasons about health and humane animal treatment, and I had only one: My big sister was doing it, thus it was amazingly cool and I wanted to be doing it, too.
Strangely, despite our major dietary limitation, Mom still reminisces with glistening eyes and a near-quivering voice about her pride in our willingness to eat just about anything that summer in France. Bony, fishy bouillabaisse? No problem! Raw oysters, clams, and mussels? Bring it on! “Special” French chicken? Why not? (Though we found out later that what made it “special” was the fact that it was rabbit.)
Though Mom remembers our adventurous attitudes toward food, I remember that, above all, I didn’t want to be rude. So if people were serving it, I was eating it—or politely choking it down. But whenever we went to a restaurant and had the chance to order our own meals it was a whole different ballgame. Maggy and I chose the same, safe thing over and over again: Salmon. By the time we left that culinary delight of a country, I never wanted to see another piece of salmon again. That was 13 years ago.
At this moment, I still won’t order salmon in a restaurant. In fact, I don’t even finish reading the menu description if the word “salmon” is anywhere in the title. And I am even harder-pressed to cook it at home. If someone makes it for me, I’ll eat it. I might even like it. But I am not choosing it…ever. Truth be told, I really wish I liked salmon—it’s pretty, it’s popular, it’s good for you, and it’s usually a decent bet on an unfamiliar menu. But, I remain all salmon-ed out.
Of course, Tony, who likes everything—even big, steaming bowls of tripe—really loves salmon. And so, it’s time for my decade-long fight with salmon to be over. Since I like horseradish more than I could ever dislike salmon, it wasn’t too hard to work up a recipe that we both really enjoy.