Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Fluke (noun): A surprising piece of luck
I've lived in all of two tourist towns, so I can say with absolute authority that tourist towns breed bartering. In a ski town, you can get nearly anything done for a six-pack of beer. Here, we're more creative. Or older. One of those.
At one point we had a major-label recording artist babysitting our kids in exchange for studio time. But most of what we exchange is on the fly. It's more "you need that? I've got it." The person you give to is often not the person you get from, but somehow it all works out. I think we do this because tourist towns are expensive to live in and most of us can't afford it. We take care of each other. It's also friendly, and friendly is good.
Last weekend we went to a friend's house and transplanted the peach tree they had offered us. We have not killed it yet. In about three years we will be silly with peaches - which we will give to the neighbors and make into peach jam.
Yesterday I had a call from a friend who is a fisherman. He had a ridiculously huge bag of fluke and asked if we'd like some. I hardly ever say no to offers of food so, not having the slightest idea how to cook it, I ran right over.
I took a gallon ziplock bag. He filled it nearly to the top with fillets.
Now I'm a little miffed that the peach tree isn't giving us peaches right now, in April. Because how great would it be to serve fluke with peach salsa?
This kind of thing isn't for everyone. You often get what you want, but you just as often get what you didn't know you wanted.
Here's a tip: people give to people who are easy to give to.
Did you get that? When I lived in the city, I had a friend who worked for a performing arts center. He frequently had comp tickets to plays and, knowing that I would always say "yes please" he gave them to me nearly every time. It got so he just left them on my desk. It was like being visited by the Culture Fairy (it may interest you to know that the Culture Fairy is over 6' tall, with a very large, black beard).
I, in turn, got to the point where I'd make one phone call to invite a friend to join me - because she always said yes. We saw a lot of things we had never heard of - and would be sorry to have missed.
So when the call came about the fluke yesterday, I did not tell him we were cooking haddock that very minute and ask him to call back when he had some striped bass. If I've learned one thing, it's that you don't look a gift fluke in the mouth (although if you do, you discover that they have teeth). You invite your friends and feast on fluke.
And then you make fish cakes with what's left.
And fish soup with what's left from that.
Fluke. It's the new zucchini.
(pictured: fluke platter, made by my friend Rosalie Nadeau and given to us by our neighbor when we got married)