I finally uploaded the photos I took when my family went on a trip to Sea World San Diego last February. It was a birthday treat for my daughter. Having been there numerous times, my husband and I stood detached from the people in the aquarium exhibits. We kept an eagle eye out for our kids who were eagerly dashing from one fish tank to the next.
One man stood out in the crowd. In a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, he gave his toddler a lecture in natural history. “Smart ass”, my husband muttered under his breath. While he was explaining the behaviour of the bala shark to his child, my husband and I were arguing whether it was really a bala shark or a milkfish. We wondered if they taste just as good as the “bangus”. Our kids dragged us to the piranha tank. The man was there again. This time he was pointing at the piranha’s sharp teeth and telling his kid that they are carnivorous creatures. I, on the other hand, was pointing out to my husband that they look a lot like pompanos, the fish that I usually buy for $2.99/lb at asian fish markets. “I heard from Latinos that some people do eat piranhas”, my husband added. “Maybe they’d taste great sprinkled with salt and pepper and broiled for seven minutes on each side.”, I speculated.
At an underwater viewing tunnel, my daughter looked up at me excitedly and called my attention to the large shark that was swimming closer. Everybody marvelled at its rows of serrated teeth. I turned to my husband and inquired, “Have you tasted linabog nga bagis?” He shooked his head and asked how it is made. “You cook the shark with coconut milk and tiny peppers. Yummy!”, I answered and smacked my lips.
All day long we were wracking our brains for fish recipes. I don’t know ….. Is it just me and my husband? Or is it a cultural thing with Filipinos —this tendancy to think of fish as delightful morsels for the dining table rather than creatures with an important part to play in a balanced ecosystem?