Today's Francophile Friday is a rough scene from my memoir, SEVEN LETTERS. Keep in mind, I love seafood, especially sushi, but I have a strong aversion to cooked salmon and "fishy" fish. And while the above picture looks quite tasty, I found it on Google. So, please, just imagine a few strategically placed fish eyes...
WARNING: one R-rated word, but it wasn't intentional...
Pot-au-Feu de la mer
Jean-Luc pours another glass of wine. I smile, however, my meal is not what I’d anticipated. I'd expected mussels, shrimp, and maybe some calamari. But not this. No, definitely not the fish – heads, eyeballs, and skin included – in a steaming bowl of cabbage soup sitting before me. The explosion of various colors, combined with the pungent smell, bring an open air fish market on a hot day to mind. I swallow back a bite of salmon with a sip wine, the only way to wash this mouthful of torturous tastes down, and try not to gag. My stomach turns sour.
The waitress sets a pitcher of water down in front of us. No glasses.
“How’s your meal?” asks Jean-Luc.
I shove a piece of bread in my mouth and try to keep from grimacing. “The, the, the, shrimp are really good.”
“And the other fish? They have a nice taste?”
Smile and nod. Just smile and nod. “Mmmm-hmm. Delicious. Want some?” Like the one staring at me? He takes a bite from my bowl. A silvery skin is left behind. He nods at me to continue eating. But I can't chug down wine with every bite. And I can’t take it anymore. Not without a chaser. I pick up the water pitcher. “Honey, can you ask the waitress for some glasses? Ou, j’ai besoin d’une pipe.”
The couple seated the next table over snort into their napkins. Jean-Luc nudges me with his foot under the table. His face breaks out into a wide grin. “You just said you needed a blow job.”
“I did not. I said I needed a straw…” My ears tingle with embarrassment. I sink into my chair, mumbling as I correct myself. “Which would have been une paille, not une pipe.”
Whoops. Foot in mouth. Again.
Jean-Luc eyes me with a bemused expression. He leans forward, stealing a bite of something pink and slippery from my bowl. My lips twitch involuntarily. His eyes sparkle mischievously. “And you lied to me. You promised you would never lie to me.”
He laughs. “You don’t like your dinner.You hate it. It’s like watching a small child.”
“So, you knew this whole time? And you didn’t say anything?”
“It's been very entertaining watching you eat. You make some very funny faces, Sam. Very funny."
SOUND-OFF: Are you a fan of fish stew? When you hate a meal, and you're trying to be polite, what do you do to get out of it?