On the way home from work Friday night I picked up a nice whole braised cod with black bean sauce from our favorite Berkeley Chinese restaurant, Long Life Vegi-House. The boy saw the the tail sticking out of the container and right away asked what it was. I got that good feeling one sometimes gets when about to share something with a loved one that the loved one has never experienced.
The fish, partly covered with tofu, carrots, celery, and mushrooms, impressed him plenty. He asked about the various parts, then came back to the eye, asked if he could eat it. I told him that, although some people did eat them, even considered them a delicacy, most Westerners did not partake, and that, even I who consider myself adventurous with food, had not ever tried them. So we sat in the dining room and he ate the chow mein, vegetables and rice, but would not stop asking to see the cod's eye one more time. He almost threw a fit about it, but I explained that I did not want to get up during my meal, and that I would show him the eye again as soon I finished my plate. He kept on it, so when I walked my plate to the sink he trailed right along behind to check the eye. I asked him if he wanted me to remove it. He did. I spooned it out and mushed it around a bit to reveal a perfect sphere of a white eyeball. We looked at it for a moment, in awe. He still wanted to eat it. I double checked his resolve before spooning it into his mouth. This chain of events fair astounded Ma Kettle and me, but we tried not to make a big deal of it since he was still busy chewing. For several minutes he chewed on it until reporting that the remainder was too hard to eat. During those long minutes images of my son as a brave dragonslayer, valiant hero, and brilliant innovator flashed across my vision. I sat there wondering what that eye tasted like, and why I'd never had the cool to eat one. You know I wanted to plenty of times in my youth, but had lost all nerve years ago. The middle turned out to be hard as a pearl and just as round & white. It still sits in our garden window. The boy & I had to scoop out the other one just to check it out, but Phantasma got to eat it, pearl in the middle & all.
We had a bunch of high fives, down lows, & gimme skins over the successful eye eating, and then inspected the carcass for a while longer before settling into a rousing after-dinner blocks session. Ma Kettle soon left the building and the booming bass dance party started. The boy asked to hear Funkadelic's "Butt to buttresuscitation" again after the track ended, singing what he thought the chorus was so I'd know what song he meant. We rocked out serious the second go-round, that being the first time he'd made such a request.
All that rocking upset little daughter's tummy, and she let me know she'd had enough careening aroung the room by showing me how many times an infant can spit up in half an hour. Such a sweet thing, even more so with a fresh blouse. She fell asleep on my hip a short while later, chin to chest in classic baby style, cool as a cucumber. The joys of fatherhood keep coming around the mountain, ever more to reveal themselves.