There are plenty of ways that you can show your love this Valentine’s Day weekend. You could deliver a bouquet of flowers, or make a card, or gift tickets to that awesome concert coming up– but when it comes down to it, there is only one thing that is guaranteed to make your loved one full of joy this V-day…
I don’t have many fish recipes up on the blog because, honestly, I’m not a huge fan. There have been very few times that I’ve eaten fish and enjoyed it, or at least not thought, “This would be even better if it was chicken.” In fact, there’s only been one fish dish that I can remember that I’ve been crazy about– a dish I ate years ago while on a date at a New Orleans-themed restaurant in New Brunswick. I’ll give you one guess as to what it was.
Yup, you got it. Pecan Crusted Cajun Catfish.
I wouldn’t normally order catfish, but at the time I was really trying to “broaden my horizons” with food as I had just gotten into cooking. When the waiter placed the catfish in front of me, I started to get nervous. Would I actually like it? Would I be able to eat it, or would I embarrass myself in front of this guy by just picking at my meal?
I was surprised when I took my first bite and loved it. The flaky fish, sweet, spicy, and crunchy coating, and flavorful sauce were perfect together. I ate my entire meal in minutes, only stopping in between bites to make those awkward I-love-this-food moans. It wasn’t until after I had practically licked my plate clean that I remembered that I was on a date. ”So… you really liked that catfish,” he said. He finished his dinner and I tried to play off the fact that I just devoured my food Cookie Monster style. But wait! There’s more…
I personally don’t believe that you can go over-the-top with a meal as long as the taste is worth it in the end. I don’t find anything wrong with spending hours in the kitchen, or searching high and low for the best ingredients, or meticulously planning out the details of each course. Food is something worth laboring over. However, sometimes we have to resist the urge to go all-out, and remember that some of the most amazing things we have ever eaten have been simple– a fresh fig and drizzle of honey, a slice of tomato, a bit of mozzarella, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, or a flavorful cheese balanced with a sip of wine. There is something to be said about the amplified appeal of food when paired correctly, a sort of effort that requires more knowledge than hard work.
I’ll be completely honest and say that I didn’t have that knowledge a few weeks ago, but I made the effort to educate myself on flavor profiles and pairings and it most definitely paid off.
Keep in mind, if you put cheese and meat on a plate and pour me a glass of wine, I don’t really careif they go together well, I just want to eat them all. Usually, that is. But after a visit from my Aunt Sandy, who picks at antipasto every night and once cried (yes, seriously) while on vacation because she missed her smoked meats and sharp cheeses, I really was yearning for a spread that contained more than just pre-sliced pepperoni and cheddar.
While nearly everyone I know is lamenting “the end of summer”, I’ve got to tell you, I’m pretty excited. Not because I’m glad that weather no longer permits us to float in the pool, drink in hand, and take in all of the sunshine, but because we’re moving away from hot and humid weather into truly beautifuldays where you can wear nearly anything in your wardrobe and not sweat or freeze to death. More importantly, you can actually go outside and do things, because let’s be honest, the summer heat made outdoor activity for the past few months pretty limited to hanging around large bodies of water. There were probably 10 or so times I said to myself, “I want to pack a picnic” but then remembered that it was 90 degrees outside and humid on that summer day and decided to hold off. Well, it’s picnic weather now, guys… So I had myself a picnic.
On nights where I can’t be bothered to cook, I begin to really miss college. Back then, I was young, impressionable, and a budding future food-fanatic, thanks to the many competing restaurants and extreme cultural diversity in the area. There was cuisine from nearly every country– from Lebanon to Italy to Ethiopia– and despite being the epitome of a broke college student, I tried them all.