Something Fishy on a Sunday Morning

This may be a sign that I’m getting older. In the last couple of years, I often spent Sunday mornings passed out on my bed or on the couch (if I didn’t make it to my bed) or in the spare bedroom of a friend’s house (if I didn’t make it to my apartment). I’d wake up at noon with a nasty hangover and a stinky beer (or Emperador) smell, and spend the rest of the day feeding on instant noodles and guzzling Gatorade.

In the past few months however, I was either too busy or too lazy to go out on Saturdays and would just sleep in early instead. It has then become a ritual to wake up at dawn on Sunday and go to the mini-market next to the big church in our neighborhood. I buy fruits at a discount from my suki, Ate Mercy, home-cooked laing and ginatan from a nice old lady, and suman, kalamay and puto from an equally nice old man and his cute grandson.

Earlier today, I was out of bed by 5:30 and was on my way to the market after an hour. In addition to the usual fruits and kakanin, I decided to buy some fresh fish. I then spent the next hour cleaning, scaling and gutting them. I may not be the best cook (yet!) but I’ve honed my skills in taking out fish gills and guts from countless hours in the kitchen with my mom.

Back at my parents’ house, I hated cleaning fish. It was bloody and messy and my hands stank of fish guts afterwards. I didn’t understand why my mother thought it was necessary for me to learn this skill set. Fishmongers are perfectly fine with cleaning the fish before handing them to you. And if all else fails, there’s always canned tuna.

But here I am years later, facing a kilogram of fish with gills and guts still intact. After an hour and a half of intense work (I’m not the world’s fastest fish cleaner. Yet.), here they are:

Clean, scale-less and gut-free!

I had to clean these twice because I had a hard time removing the scales the first time.

Then I was able to pull out two small fish from the bellies of the big ones. I guess these guys had a pretty good last meal before they met their end.

By the time I was done, there were fish scales on my shirt, arms, neck and hair. The sink looked like a post-op scene with blood and guts everywhere. There are infinitely better ways to spend Sunday mornings but this one felt strangely relaxing. I put the fish in Ziploc bags and kept them in the freezer. I don’t know what to do with them yet but I better be ready to have fish for dinner for the next month.

I cleaned up the sink and had breakfast while watching the preview of UFC 138 with Mark Muñoz vs Chris Leben as the main event. After the kitchen bloodbath, I was ready for a good dose of brutal ass-kicking.

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