The most delicious thing I ever ate


Once upon a time there was a wonderful woman named Jan, whose Oregon family did loads of Oregon-y things, such as digging for clams on the Oregon Coast, trolling  for Dungeness crabs in Siletz Bay, and, occasionally, fishing for salmon in the waters that surround Portland.

Oregon was her bounty, and she shared it in turn with a bunch of schlubbs like us who went and had a baby and can’t find our way to the bottom of the diaper pail, let alone to a boat.

This Jan showed up on our doorstep one day and gifted us with a roughly three pound piece of salmon that she had just pulled from the waters five hours before.

I had never seen a piece of fish quite so beautiful. It glistened with the waters of the river, its skin firm and ruby red,its edges sliced pristinely into a chunk of hunka hunka burnin’ fish.

We like salmon very much in this house. We sometimes drip some soy sauce and a little peanut oil on the top, or slice some green leeks over it and poach it in some parchment.

But this salmon was different.

All this salmon asked for was a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and a quick wrist flourish of ground pepper. I baked it until it was just cooked in the middle and cut two smaller pieces from it to serve for dinner.

It is not a stretch for me to say that this salmon was — by leaps and bounds — the most delicious thing I have ever tasted in my life. At one moment, as I flaked yet another forkful off of the fish, I felt as if I could feel its life blood coursing through its sinews.

Adam  explains it this way:

“You could distinguish between the myomeres and even sarcomeres. It tasted like it was still alive. It was the difference between eating a salad and eating a stew. That fish tasted like it was still pulsing.”

The salmon didn’t make it through the night. I had my serving, then Adam had his, then he had another, then he had another, then another until there was nothing left on the plate but a wrinkled, drying but still sparkling skin.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Except for the salmon, of course.

Suck it, salmon, I don’t feel bad.

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10 Responses to “The most delicious thing I ever ate”

  1. Paige Says:

    Wow! You make me wish I had appreciated my dad’s salmon fishing efforts more as a kid. Sure, I liked the salmon (especially the big, thick steaks from the 30-pounder he once caught, but I didn’t realize what a precious commodity something like that would become once I was older.

    My boyfriend is a paramedic on the coast and his partner goes salmon fishing. This has inspired me to poke him in the ribs to give some to us!

  2. nick lopez Says:

    You had me at “suck it, Salmon”.

  3. Emily Grosvenor Says:

    It is important, as an Oregonian, I believe, to have a good salmon hookup. I hope I am one day in a position to do the same for someone else…

  4. Sophie Says:

    Dang.

  5. Chris Hahn Says:

    We too, have reinvigorated our love for local fish. My parents-in-law took our 5 year old daughter fishing at Detroit lake and she pulled in 3 very respectable Perch, which i fried up for lunch with a little EVOO, sea salt, and pepper. Delicate and tasty.

  6. Emily Grosvenor Says:

    I keep trying to get the husband to think about one day buying a boat. I might have better luck with the demand for an Airstream.

  7. Carol Says:

    Oh, I never knew what salmon was until I moved to Oregon. If you don’t have a Jan in your life, there’s always Fitts.

  8. David Henderson Says:

    Reading this induced a very pleasant flashback to my summer in Dillingham on Bristol Bay, boarding with an intrepid fishing family and enjoying the wildest, freshest, most delicious delicatedly baked Chinook one could ever hope to taste. ‘Tis the season!

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