So I've had this package of fishy snacks lurking in my kitchen for a few months now; my altdaughter Stephanie (who is teaching in China and writes the blog Stephanie In Shanghai about her experiences) sent it to me in a sort of "CARE package" of Asian goodies. I've kind of been avoiding opening it, because they're...um...eels, and eels totally squick me out.
But curiosity is a stronger primal force than squick, and so it was that I finally opened up the package to give them a try.
I've had lots of dried fish products, most of them pretty good. I've tasted dried salt cod right off the sun-bathed racks of a New England fishing dock. I've eaten shredded dried fish, and clam jerky, and leathery strips of dehydrated squid. But none of it - not a bit - was as agressively fishy as this dried eel. The taste is strong and deeply fishy, and not in a pleasant way. And it stinks, as well. Imagine an old fish fillet, forgotten in the back of the fridge for a week or two, and then discovered. That first whiff? That's what the eel was like.
I ate a piece, and the flavor just gets stronger and more off-putting the longer it's chewed and held in the mouth. It was truly Not Good. And yet, for all that, dried eels snacks do have their uses.
I don't know where the dog was when I first opened the pouch - he certainly wasn't in the kitchen with me. But within seconds, he was at my side, nose lifted, sniffing deeply in the direction of the pouch and looking at me with those big liquid I Love You Because You Have Snacks eyes. Luckily for him, eel snacks are high-protein and low-fat, and so I indulge his craving now and then with them. I'm glad someone in the house can stand them.