Wednesday, December 9, 2009

the fishmonger challenge

Beneath a bowing blue tarpaulin, silver scales shine under bare bulbs, arranged in eye-pleasing patterns that tempt. Flashes of red gills, pinkish crustacean shells, a row of patient cats. Seagulls stalk from lamp posts across the street. Men in blue aprons and Wellies sing out the names of fish and necessary numbers— how much the levrek is today, how many kilos of karides for how many lira.

I whole-heartedly believe that if I can muster up the courage to ask one of the fishmongers for a fish, have him clean and fillet it, I will have accomplished something great. I've bought fruit from the manav, and bread from the fırıncı, but so far, no fish from the balıkçı. I ask myself why, every time I squish past the puddles of seawater on the pavement, why I don't just do it. I think it has something to do with the fact that my minibus stand is right next to the balıkçı, and if I do something unbearably yabancı— foreign— I'll be faced with the grins and yabancı-related comments every day. And some days you just want to blend in.

But who cares, right? I am a yabancı, and I want to buy a fish. Why should I worry if I reveal my spotty Turkish to a bunch of fishmongers? I have no fear of blurting out the wrong words anywhere else. So I've decided, by the end of this week, I will march up to the balıkçı and buy some fish. I will take my fish on the minibus with pride. I will walk it home, all clean and filleted, and I will cook it up deliciously.


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