Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Something Smells Fishy

Did you know that if you eat sugar snap peas for breakfast, chips and homemade salsa for lunch, and Lucky Charms for dinner the salsa will overpower the other foods and cause you serious pain for hours after you've eaten? I think you should take my word for it.

Writing about food makes me think of a time...long ago...in Brooklyn. I'll tell you the story but you have to promise not to think less of me. Deal? (This is where you say deal.)

As some of you know I lived in NYC for 18 months. I spent 9 months in Jamaica, Queens and 9 months in different parts of Brooklyn. I was there as a missionary for my church. (I'm guessing you might have seen a missionary or two in your world...they are usually young men...two of them... with white shirts and ties. They're harmless...really.)

My companion (the other girl I worked with) and I were in search of someone who had ordered a Bible from a commercial on TV. We found her apartment, four flights up, in a shady part of town. But let's be real...85% of Brooklyn could be considered the shady part of town...but I loved every single block.

We were greeted at the door by a lovely woman from Trinidad, and the strong smell of fish in the background. (Did you know that I HATE fish? I do. The smell alone makes me gag.) We were invited in and after a few minutes of pleasant conversation we gave the woman the Bible she had requested. A few minutes later as we were getting ready to leave, my companion said, "whatever you are cooking smells delicious." I could have kicked her...I would have kicked her...except that we were there to deliver a Bible and how would it look for a missionary to kick another missionary?

But HELLO??? She had been in NYC longer than I had...she knew the rules. NEVER say anything about a person's food because it's a near guaranteed fact that if you do, they'll offer to feed you. Oh...the shock and dismay I felt was of epic proportion. Epic I tell you. The lovely woman from Trinidad was gracious and kind and asked if we would like to join her for lunch. I reminded my companion that we couldn't because we had to meet the guys for another appointment. And then the lovely woman from Trinidad who was gracious and kind said, "Oh...go to your appointment, and then come back with the elders and I will feed all of you."

The minute we were out of hearing distance I turned on my companion. "Did you all of a sudden lose your mind? Did you forget the fact that YOU hate fish as much as I do? Did you take leave of every sensible thought you've ever had?" And she smiled at me sheepishly and said, "It was the nice thing to do."

Nice? Knowingly set yourself up for an invitation to lunch with a complete stranger...who would be serving you FISH??? I couldn't say another word...I was reserving the energy it would require to swallow the large amount of food I would be given soon. Because not only will they feed you but they'll feed you as if it's your last meal...ever.

(Don't even get me started on the Thanksgiving I spent in Brooklyn...the one where I had to eat THREE meals...but I digress.)

We returned with the elders in tow and rode the elevator up to the fourth floor. The lovely lady from Trinidad who was gracious and kind took us into her tiny little kitchen where the table was set for four and began to fill our plates...our very large plates...with spoonful after spoonful of rice and then the delicious fish soup on top of the rice...fish soup that was filled to overflowing with little baby ... something ... maybe shrimp ... who knows ... who cares ... it was fish.

When she was nearly done she asked, "Who wants the fish head? It's the best part." And in her serving spoon you could see the head...eyes and all. One of the elders piped up and said, "Oh give it to Sister Harper. She loves them." (Sister Harper was my companion.) Harper's eyes got big but what could she do? She was the one who got us into this lunch appointment...

When our plates were full, the lovely lady from Trinidad who was gracious and kind told us to enjoy our meal and then she left the kitchen. Yes, she left the kitchen. And so there we were, four missionaries doing our best to stomach the incredibly large amount of fishy food on our plates.

I was sitting next to one of the guys and every time he turned his head I put as much of my food on his plate as I could get away with. He didn't catch on until my plate was nearly empty. (It's because I'm so smooth.) When he finally realized that his food never diminished he came up with Plan B. Now...here's the part where you made the deal that you wouldn't think less of me...because it WASN'T my idea.

Plan B involved leaning his chair back as far as he could so that he was leaning against the open window. I'm guessing you know what happened next. He picked his plate up and dumped the remaining fishy concoction right out the window...where it landed in the garbage pile four floors below. When Harper asked him to do the same with the fish head he refused. He said something about vindication.

The elders left before we did and when we were finally headed back down in the elevator I looked above the door and saw where one of the guys had written in pencil "Harper eats fish heads." I laughed the entire time it took her to clean the words off of the elevator door.

It was a while before she commented on someones food again.

13 comments:

Me and Mine in a Small Town said...

Lol this post made me laugh and almost gag at the same time. I used to love fih but after my 2nd baby I haven't been too fond of it. LOL I could just picture your face!!

-stephanie- said...

That's funny! And Noelle....it was nice...Because Nice Matters! :o)

Dazee Dreamer said...

hahahaha. Priceless. I especially loved your use throughout of "The lovely lady from Trinidad who was gracious and kind". hehehehehehe

Baby Sister said...

That made me barf just reading it...ewwwwww!!!!

Elders make life so entertaining. :)

Tiffany said...

I am cracking up! Partly because of your story and partly because I just remembered a bizarre song from the 80's.

"fish heads, fish heads,
roly poly fish heads,
fish heads, fish heads,
eat them up, yum!"

I had to look it up... found it on youtube. Crazy stuff.

(Barnes/Barnes - Fish Heads)

Isn't there some sort Mosher (Mormon Kosher) that forbids Lucky Charms to be the food following salsa? Hope your tummy's okay.

Amy said...

sick. sick sick sick.

Did she actually eat it? Did she get it out the window? Cuz if it was true - she should've left the the pencil up. Just sayin'.

I bet that lady has a blog and tells people about how one time she made the missionaries eat fish heads. :D

Loralee and the gang... said...

I once knew a missionary who threw up at the church because their dinner appointment had fed them so much. But at least it was cake and pie (I wonder how long it was until he could eat cake and pie again?) And I understand your fish adversion. My husband Loves TO fish, but not eat fish. It works out ok, because I don't mind eating it, but I Hate to cook it!
(Yeah, your story is WAAAy better...)

Kristie said...

Ha ha! I remember that story. Stinkin' Elder Mitchell! I feel your pain. Once upon a time in Corona Queens, Sister Verrue kindly passed the fish tail to me. Not as gross as the head, but still made me gag!

jayayceeblog said...

I worked a bridal show once where one of the catering vendors right next to us cooked fish to hand out for samples all day long ... I was so nauseated.Your story, however, is hilarious! I could just picture it happening. You are smooth ... smooth as buttah!!!

Beth said...

Oh Noelle! What a great story! My son has gone on a number of short term mission trips and he always leaves with a suitcase full of junk/snack food just in case he can't find anything edible over *there.* He's a picky eater poor thing! But he hasn't starved yet!

The Empress said...

Oh, I could not do this...never.

I think I'd carry a bag of trail mix everywhere I went, just to be sure I'd have something to eat..

Feeling Just Right said...

OMG! Plan B involved the bin? And she DIDN'T notice? God was helping you!

Mr. Thompson and Me said...

The only thing worse than actually eating it....is pretending like you like it....

BECAUSE THEY GIVE YOU MORE!

(and why does it always have to involve fish?)