Chrilogy Part II: The Miracle of Fish and Wine
Fridays, for some reason, often become the most stressful work day, but it’s ok, as the weekend is just a few hours away. Two1 Fridays ago was no different: I had to manage the aftermath of a car theft in the work parking lot, make more budget projection adjustments2, and deal with many other work crises that appeared to be end-of-the-world type of scenarios for clients experiencing them.
When my work day finally ended, Chris met me in front of my building and we hugged, just what I needed after a long, stressful day. We walked home together and I learned of his day of Sac town adventures that included watching the setting sun by Tower Bridge just right before he met with me. I would have liked to watch the sunset, too while drinking a good glass of wine. Wine and sunset pairing is one of my favorites.
After a quick walk to my place, we went up to say hi to Auntie and then we took off for the grocery store. I told Chris we were having a smoked fish dinner and I wanted to get tomatoes, onions, and wine. He insisted on getting the wines for the night. I teased him that had I known he would insist, I would have planned a walk to a place with a better and more expensive wine selection.
I decided to get a modestly-priced bottle of Chardonnay to pair with the fish, and although I prefer supporting California wine industry, the musicality of For a Song Chardonnay from Washington’s Columbia Valley won over the other selections. I thought it would be nice for Auntie to see a musical reference on a wine label. Chris asked for a recommendation on the bottle of red wine, and I told him that I would be open for the adventure of whatever he selects3. After two hours4 of looking through the bottles and wine labels, Chris finally had a selection: Quines Cabernet Sauvignon of California grapes. He said he selected it for its name. Fair enough. With produce and wine in our bag, we walked back to the apartment to get our dinner preparation started.
I am, by no stretch of the imagination, religious anymore5, but there is something inescapable about a profoundly Catholic upbringing that religious references inevitably appear in everyday life. Like with dinner: Thoughts of the parable when Jesus miraculously multiplies three loaves of bread and two fishes to feed 5,000 people often comes to mind as I prepare, stage, and eventually enjoy a smoked fish dinner.
Dinner that night was Tinapang Bangus6, the Philippines’ national fish. Bangus, or “Milk Fish,” as it is otherwise known, is a white, flaky fish that is so resilient to flavor and diversity of cooking preparation. When smoked, its silver skin turns golden like a glistening sunset. The meat marinates in smoke and seeps in flavor that later reminds you of the beautiful goodness and simplicity of island cooking. Paired with white rice, mango and tomato salsa, and atchara7, it makes you forget about a tough work week.
Dinner ends and conversation over dessert begins. Earlier that week, I got Brazo de Mercedes, one of my favorite and most sinful Filipino desserts. It is a cake roll, a cloud-like heaven of fluffy meringue wrapped around a sweet, custard goodness. It is deceivingly light and angelic, but so devilish in its decadence.
Post-supper, we watched a movie; well, I watched the film as Chris went back and forth between dreamland and Lion land. It was either the bottle of Chardonnay we finished in less than an hour or the tale of an Indian boy whose train adventures got him lost in India and found in Australia. Perhaps the dialogue saturated with accents from home became an instant lullaby.
The movie ends and our day ends, as well. We rest and dream of another day of wine, food, and friendship.