I became a fish eater last April, when I visited an old friend in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We were at the pub, and I was through with eating gobs of hummus and fafel to satiate my titanic vegetarian hunger. So I had some fish and chips. No great revelation, it tasted not too unlike tofu.

So, a few months later I go to Sripraphai (thai food champions in Queens, assburn spicy style) with a few friends, and we decide to order a whole fried fish, with a chilli+basil sauce. They serve it up, I startle at the bones, and wonder what I’ve gotten myself into. The eating turns me half brute, snapping bones, licking my fingers, making a mess. I look at the head and ask my friends, “If I crack it open, will I find more to eat?” They look at me funny and don’t say much. I decide that since one of my friends hasn’t finished his share of some curry thing, I’ll finish that off and not look like I’ve devolved too far. When my friends aren’t looking, I poke at the eyes, and see that there’s not too much there, just charred black little beady things.

Fast forward to my birthday in July, another fish comes, this time at Mina (my favorite restaurant ever, which closed it’s Queens location; the cook is now at Angon, in Manhattan, a 6th st place that I’m boycotting because the prices are fucking outrageous, and they’re probably catering to the lame taste of all of those people that go to the [mostly] lame places on 6th St.). A friend’s grandma is from India, via Jamaica, and she says that the eyes are the fish’s best part, and it’s good luck to eat them. I’m all for good luck, so down they go, and you know what? They really *are* the best part.

So I’m becoming a real fish eye fan; and am making subtle distinctions, and slowly notice that the more the cooked eye shows it’s structure, the less overcooked the fish is. Case in point: last weekend at Fiesta Mexicana (excellent new slightly upscale Mexican place on 75th and Roosevelt Ave in Queens, their ensalata de nopalitos is worth writing home about) the eye of the red snapper I ate was almost totally intact, even to the point of retaining the fluid. The hard thing at the back of the eye was still white and not crunchy like it is when the fish is overcooked. And it was the yummiest fish I’ve ever had, with stew tomatoes and onions, so soft and fresh.

In other news, this weekend I’ll be heading to a few Greeks places in Astoria in quest of Myzitra (inna Cretan soft stylee, not the hard stylee like everyone else.) It was the first cheese that I ever really loved, I consumed pounds upon pounds of it during my 2 week stay in Crete.