Sunday, September 2, 2012

FISHO! A Taste of the Pet Store

In the USA in a small town called Somersworth, New Hampshire there was a small pet shop beside a Market Basket in a strip mall with south-west-teal roofing and a stucco exterior. The shop specialized in aquariums. In the back of the shop, two, narrow, unlit isles glowed with tanks full of tetras, neons, guppies and painted turtles. Bubblers droned behind the warbles and chirps of Parakeets and Zebra Finches. Near the register, lit through the front window with nature and cluttered between the cages of guinea pigs and the aquariums, were bags of Alpo and Purina. There were cow hoofs, rubbery pig ears, squeaky mice, Beggin Bits, leg bones, leather chews, and Tetra Flakes. And all throughout the odor of these preserved and processed parts pervaded the store. 

Never did I imagine that 20 years later I would eat something with the very same smell and somewhat enjoy it.  

Soy sauce flavored Fisho (2,000 won) was an unlikely candidate for deliciousness when on impulse I tossed it on the checkout counter at Lotte Mart. Despite being a native of New England with its famed seafood, I always preferred tenders, steaks and chops to fish. And seeing shoelace strips of dried fish from uncertain species and origin was not any more encouraging. 

Opening the monochromatic blue bag scrawled with Korean and Thai only made Fisho more suspect. A hesitant whiff instantly aroused memories of the food isle in American pet stores, but it wasn't fishy or overpowering. A strip was drawn from the bag. It was spongy like bread, and nothing about the cross section indicated that it was made from an animal. It could easily have been flavored and tenderized strips of pounded cardboard; however, it was fish. 

Nevertheless, I ate one. I thought I tasted the pet shop, but the flavor was so subtle I ate a second one and then a third and a fourth trying to pin down the taste. The fifth time two went in at once. I definitely tasted a pet shop, but it was still not very strong and there was something new -- spiciness? As more and more strips were consumed and the dosage increased, that mild spiciness turned into peppery and then salty and then ultimately into a parade starting with the pet shop, but continuing on into salty, peppery and then spicy. Over time, as the other favors accumulated on the palate, the pet store became less and less evident, and it was becoming harder and harder not to eat more. All that was needed was a light Korean beer like Cass and it would have been perfect. 

What a treat we Americans have been giving our pets all this time.

No comments:

Post a Comment