As you may well know, I’m proud of both my Chinese and Indian heritage, and I try to share some of the traditions with which I was raised with my daughters just so they get to experience diluted (as in watered down to .02% concentration after having lived in the States for the past 20 years) versions of them. They’re part Chinese and Indian after all.
But it wasn’t until yesterday, when we were having a celebratory Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner (two days early because My Guy has a work thing two nights this week) as a family, that I became convinced that Little Miss, my six-year-old, may be more Chinese than I thought. More Chinese than me even.
You see, while we were shopping at the Chinese grocery store, I explained to Little Miss, who wanted to know why we didn’t just go to the regular H.E.B. (a Texas-based grocery store, also one of my favorite things about this state), that we were there to get a whole fish, specifically the white pomfret, because it’s an auspicious dish for the Lunar New Year, and it would be impossible to procure it anywhere else.
At my response, her eyes widened: “A whole fish? You mean the head too? Yaaaaay! Yes! Yes! Let’s get the whole fish! I want to eat the eyeballs! Mmmmm….eyeballs!”
Since then, until one such eyeball actually made its way to her mouth, she wouldn’t stop obsessing over it for the rest of the day.
At the store:
“Yes, yes, pick this one - let me see the eyes. Oooh...look at that. I like that one. I can’t wait to eat the eyes!”
She sauntered into the kitchen and asked: “Where’s the fish? Is it ready yet?” Then she turned to her sister and excitedly announced, “Pickle, we get to eat the eyes! It’s going to be sooooo gooooooood…”
Actually, she’s never had fish eyes.
“Can I see? Can I see?” Naturally, Pickle caught the fever since whatever her sister does, she must too. “I want fish eyes!”
I don’t even know where this obsession came from. But Little Miss has had fish eggs (salmon roe nigiri is one of her favorites), ox tail, cow tongue, chicken heart, pork liver - and they were truthfully introduced to her as such - so I suppose eyeballs didn’t seem odd to her.
Ah, memory lane…
The thing is, while I’d enjoyed every part of the fish as a child, I was never into the eyes, which made her fervor even more amusing to me. Even I, the one who’s technically more Chinese, who grew up immersed in a culture that consumes all kinds of animal parts, whose favorite part, as a child, of helping my mom cook was to wash and gut fish (yes, really), would gladly avoid eating the eyes.
When we finally sat down to eat, we, of course, went straight to the business of eyeball consumption.
“Mmmmm…..this is delicious!” declared my big girl.
As for the little one, who got to try the other eye (thank goodness most fish come with two), this was her only comment after some chewing, “Can I spit this out?”
Hah! That’ll teach her to blindly follow her sister. As for the rest of the fish? We ate it all up. Everything except the bones, of course.
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Kung Hei Fatt Choy everyone! Wishing you luck, joy, and prosperity from our house to yours.