Feasting With Panthers

The first reviews are in, and the pickled herring is one of my greatest successes. I handed off a jar of it to Ellyn, who hadn’t eaten it in years but had loved it as a child back east, and she reported opening the jar that evening to share a taste with her partner before dinner. Turned out that dinner was put on hold while she and the partner sat there and ate the entire jar, scrupulously taking turns, of course. Mark took his jar to work, where it was set upon and devoured in a couple of minutes.

I was introduced to pickled herring when i was stationed in Heidelberg in the mid-sixties and took to the German custom of stopping at the Messplatz on the way home after an evening of drinking. See, at the Messplatz there were two local items for sale: hookers and Bismarck herring, the herring being of much higher quality and reputed to be a hangover preventative.

I was a little nervous about this since i’d been warned that “Bismarck” was the German word for “raw”. Emboldened by drunkenness, but sober enough to understand that raw herring presented a far lesser health hazard than those sleazy hookers, i took a taste. It was love at first bite.

Half a century later i’m pickling my own.

Then, after getting those good reviews i went browsing around looking for alternative recipes and made an unsettling discovery: the herring worm. Yes, i’ve been feasting on panthers…and passing the feast on to friends. Well, unless my purveyor of fresh herring (or his supplier) has been giving them a really hard freeze before selling them, a likelihood i considered vanishingly small and then confirmed to be absent with a call to San Francisco Fish Company. “No, they’re fresh from the Bay”.

So then the research started and i discovered that in the entire United States about ten people a year are diagnosed with herring worms, but there are no recorded fatalities. Zero. They don’t kill you. Hmmm, so i’m two and a half times as likely to be killed by lightening and three thousand times as likely to be shot to death or die in a motor vehicle accident than i am to be merely made sick by herring worms. And wait, this is the same risk i take every time i eat ceviche, sushi, or raw oysters.

So why do i still feel like i’m feasting with panthers?

Going fast, but a few jars left, so get your order in quickly.

And yeah, Wilde wrote in De Profundis: “It was like feasting with panthers, the danger was half the excitement.” So as to continue the feasting, i bought five more pounds and pickled them using Mexican limes and yellow onion. And continued my efforts as the official lab rat by eating an entire jar of each batch all by myself. Got away with it, too.

Update: As of 11 February i’ve eaten two jars from the first batch and one jar from the second with no ill effects, and considering the state of my immune system, i’m more of a mine canary than a lab rat.

LeucospermumHere’s a recent flower shot, a Leucospermum, not in somebody’s front flowerbed but rather on the sidewalk at a Church Street florist:

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