Eating Fish In Manhattan, By Mara L.

Copyright 2008 Jens Haas -

I’ve been back to Manhattan for a few weeks now, and I’m finally resuming my culinary duties on Jens’ blog. Part of this year’s readjustment (after my summer at home, in Italy) is about fish. I’m a pasta-eater, a cake-eater, and a fresh fruit-eater. But not a fish-eater. What a shame that none of my foods are sold in Manhattan in the very way in which I enjoy them in Italy. I admit that, given that my second (or third) home is Procida, an island near Napoli, it might seem that I should be a fish-eater. But that would be mistaken. Really, Procida is a rather poor island, with none of the international high-life that you find next door, in Capri. We eat Spaghetti with all kinds of things from the sea thrown into it – small things, quite deliciously blending with the tomato sauce. And essentially, it’s still spaghetti.

No culinary author should say she doesn’t love fish. But I’ll just go ahead and say it. However, what else is there to eat in Manhattan? Nothing else seems as fresh and fragrant as I would like it to be. Fish, if you buy it at the right places (including Citarella’s, Balducci’s, and others) is crisp, hard to the touch, and luminous. So, I am coming around, learning to live on a diet of fish. And I’m telling myself that it will help sustain my Manhattan health. But this brings me back to my deepest culinary puzzle, whether what’s good for the body is good for the soul, and whether it’s not obvious that the soul is more important. Can anyone be made happy by fish?