The Smelts Melt Away

A colander of fresh smelts.
A colander of fresh smelts.

I love fish, and was going to be preparing it after a long time. So, I started out in very high spirits, with palpable gusto.

My primary ingredient, a slender and silvery North Atlantic fish variety, waited washed in a colander, ready to be deep-fried. The dish I had in mind was Indian and simple, requiring no more than an hour.

Enthusiastically, I poured the still school of smelts into the cooking pot. No sooner than I placed them in the crackling hot oil than they began disintegrating.

Dismayed, I stirred them softly, only to separate them. But the more I did that, the more they melted into fragments, which only grew smaller and finer, as if in an act of rebellion.

Soon, it took on the texture of oat meal. Pulverization may never have been so effortless. The end product didn’t look remotely aquatic. For an instant, I even contemplated binning it. But I sucked back the temptation and moved away from the sink. I couldn’t waste.

I worked with what I had. It still tasted as good as any Bengali fish meal should. My only regret is that it didn’t look quite like what it should’ve.


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