If I could go to dinner anywhere in the world tonight, where would I go? And with whom and what would I eat? Well, since I’m in my Dutch immigrant blog mode, I think I’d beam myself up and over to Holland, to the Saturday market in Amersfoort or Utrecht or Amsterdam. Yeah, I know it’s only Thursday, but it’s Saturday there whenever I want it to be. If I can beam myself anywhere, it can also be any time.
It’s Saturday afternoon, and I’m walking around the market with a favorite friend or family member, and we go to one of the herring stalls and I order three salt herrings. Without the chopped onions, because that just distracts. Oh, and to be clear: they’re all three for me. The friend or family member orders for him or herself.
We watch as the herring vendor picks out the herring, praising his wares loudly all the while, by that time of course more for the benefit of other passersby. When he hands them over, I pick the first herring up by its tail. It looks and smells perfect, and I lift it up high to take a bite from the other end. That’s how it’s done. I close my eyes so I can concentrate completely on that first herring in eight years.
There’s nothing like the texture of salt herring. It feels soft and firm at the same time. A bite is actually two pieces, because the fish has been sliced open up to the tail. It tastes divine. And to think that this is only the first bite! I’m definitely in heaven. One herring is gone in about five bites. The last bite is really more of a scrape, to get the meat from both sides of the base of the tail and the tiny bit of spine that’s left at the end.
My friend or family member and I (and to be honest, in this story he or she only functions as proof that I have friends and family, because my attention is totally focused on the fish) amble along in the crowd, enjoying the weather and slowing to almost a standstill every now and then to lift our herring and tilt our heads backward for another luscious bite. People bump into me, but I don’t care. This herring is so smooth and soft that it almost melts on my tongue.
I’m into my third and last herring by now, and I savor every bit of the raw, salty softness, until, inevitably, it’s all gone. What’s to be done about that? Well, I go back for more. Because if I can beam myself to a Dutch market for herring, I can always beam myself to a Scottish mountain later to hike it all off.