jeudi, janvier 04, 2007

Spoke too soon

Ahh. Do you remember the good old days of one day ago, when I was saying that the new group of students were nice but needy? Right. Well, it turns out that "needy" is just a nicer way of saying "demanding." The kids are still quite friendly, but today I've been asked (or half-asked, or just presumed) to do a number of tasks that are nowhere in my job description. As I had guessed from yesterday, a lot of this comes from the fact that this group isn't a French language group. They'll be taking some French classes while they're here, but many of them have arrived with little to no French. So, they're able to use a line that the previous group couldn't: "Can you do this for me? I don't know how (to say it in French / to understand French)." Mercifully, they are (mostly) still very thankful, but eventually I'm going to have to make my boundaries a bit clearer. I will not be interrupting my dinner to run their errands.

Anyway, enough of that. I discovered tonight, after a surprisingly hectic first day back at work, that I make great pseudo-steamed fish. You see, while I was re-stocking my fridge at my local Frenchy-Target store, I saw it, shining in the distance. It was a daurade royale (gilthead seabream), glittering a brighter silver than his neighbors on the crushed ice. His (or, since this species is hermaphroditic, her) eyes were crystal clear and the gills were bright red. No, mom, the tail didn't still have rigor mortis; this is a supermarket after all. Either way, s/he looked delicious. I tossed out any other plans I had for dinner and brought this shiny fish home.

OK, so here's what you do to make a poor-man's steamer:

  1. Cram a sprig of thyme or some other aromatic into the cavity of the fish.
  2. Find a deep frying pan with a cover. Preferably, the cover should be airtight or have a vent that can be closed.
  3. Cover the bottom of the pan with oil, and bring up to high heat. It should be hot enough to make water crackle.
  4. Place the fish into the oil (carefully!) and then add just enough water to cover the pan again (at least 1/2 cup).
  5. Cover immediately and reduce heat to medium-high.
  6. Wait until the skin on the top begins to split on its own. Flip over fish, and add water if necessary to prevent drying
  7. Wait for about the same amount of time. If you want to test the fish for doneness, pull back some of the skin with a fork (it should be very loose by now), and slide your fork into the line along the backbone (the flesh is a bit darker there). Pull the flesh a bit with your fork to expose the meat close to the spine. If it isn't opaque and white, keep waiting.
  8. Once ready, remove from heat and plate immediately.
  9. If you're not a fan of picking at fish carcasses, you can pull all the filets off with a knife and fork while it's still soft and easy to handle. The meat should slide right off the bones.

And voilà! A sort of super-low braising that approximates steaming. The results today were delicious, especially with the thyme.

On a totally unrelated note, I was reminded today of my body's uncanny ability to wake up at a given time like an alarm clock. I had apparently forgotten to set my alarm clock last night, but I woke up this morning at 9:10am, when I had to meet the students in the lobby at 9:15 to take them to the Centre. How did my body know to wake myself up before 9:15? This certainly wasn't the first time this has happened. When I was in high school, when I was getting up every morning at 5:30am for orchestra or choir practice, I would quickly start waking up one or two minutes before my alarm would go off. This habit has continued to today, although my waking schedule isn't a stable as it was during my high school years. On many occasions, I find this even happens when I'm not getting up at a regular hour. If I need to be awake the next morning at a particular hour and it's really important, I can just look at a clock and think about the time I need to wake, and then I always open my eyes moments before my alarm clock sounds. I still can't explain it, except for to presume that humans have a surprisingly developed innate sense of time.

Well, that's enough randomness for now! It's off to bed for me.

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