I don't quite know whether it's the Mediterranean roots, or my childhood obsession with "The Little Mermaid"...or even the treasure chest full of toys at Red Lobster, but the mention of seafood always sets my heart aflutter. Whenever I'm at a grocery chain, I find myself inexplicably drawn to the seafood counter, inadverdently flirting with the (99.99% male) poisonnerie staff as I eye the glistening rows of whole Atlantic salmon.
Seafood fever definitely runs in the family. My parents tell me of their glorious summer vacations by the shores of Alexandria, where you could buy freshly caught, grilled fish right off the beach from local merchants and savour your meal right by the rolling waves of the Meditteranean. I distinctly remember my mother and grandmother taking me to numerous fish markets, gushing like schoolgirls over sea bass and porgi, touching fish with their bare hands ("The flesh is FIRM! Take that one!" and "Sonia! The eye is RED! It must be fresh!") as the clerks desperately tried to make them wear plastic gloves....but I felt like a fish out of water. The pervasive stench was unbearable for a wee fry like myself, always contending to linger just outside the door while they were finished up.
Grandma Gabriel surveying the goods
Last week, after years and years of scheduling conflicts (and changes of heart), I was finally able to take my grandmother to Coralli's-- apparently one of Montreal's finest seafood institutions.
The place...was HUGE. They had pretty much everything you can imagine. Every condiment for every critter. They even smoked their own salmon (I don't even know why this delights/surprises me, but I guess it demonstrates the absurb degree to which we are dispossessed from the production of our food)! On the car ride there, my grandmother kept calling it "smoke meat!!!", and kept raving about how good it was, and how we were going to feast on it for lunch. And in my head, I'm thinking: "Can I really trust the brisket at the fish joint? What, are they running a boucherie on the side too? This sounds like sketchy business, man."