My wife made the most fabulous seafood stew for dinner a couple of nights ago. It included chunks of cod, sea scallops, and shrimp in a perfectly spiced tomato base. As we were having dinner, I commented that the stew brought up longings from years ago, longings to live by the sea, in a culture in which seafood was part of daily life. I remembered times when we visited places where the fruit of the sea was an integral element in almost every dish.
It took a while during dinner, but I was finally able to retrieve a memory of eating salt-crusted sardines that had been grilled over glowing embers, on a street in Lisbon, Portugal. And then I remembered eating something just like it during a day-trip with a business acquaintance while on a sightseeing boat off the coast of Dubrovnik, Croatia; the fish was grilled right on the deck of the boat, on what looked like a Weber grill.
That wonderful seafood stew continues dragging memories out of the fog in my head. Once, while attending a meeting on a small island off the coast of Maryland, I was fortunate to participate in an outdoor seafood feast that included clams, oysters, crab, shrimp, and fish, all local and fresh from the water, along with grilled corn-on-the-cob and beans cooked in clay pots set on grills over embers. And I remember, as a kid, when my friends and I fished off the shoreline just at the end of my block, we would catch grouper and trout very early in the morning and fry it for breakfast in a cast-iron skillet heated over burning driftwood.
I recall a trip to California, when I visited my sister who lives there and my nephew (who was living in her downstairs apartment at the time); they took me out to dinner to a wonderful alfresco restaurant in an alley between two buildings. I ate a wonderful dinner of mussels in wine sauce, perhaps the best mussels I’ve ever had. Part of it was the environment. Part of it was the food. Part of it was the company. Collectively, it was the experience.
Oh, and the lobster and lobster rolls during visits to see my sister-in-law and her husband when she lived in the Boston area. Magnificent stuff.
I love being in a boat in the open water. It brings back memories and it gives me a sense of deliciously welcome isolation from the world. My sister-in-law and I had a conversation about that wonderful isolation while we were on an Audubon barge trip on Lake Ouachita recently.
There’s something about seafood and water that brings back memories, good memories. I am in the mood for a visit to the coast, almost any coast. And it’s all because my wife prepared a fabulous seafood stew.