Why I Can’t Live On The Wild Side: The Secret Food Of The Human Mind

It’s not easy eating wild-caught salmon by yourself on the island where I now reside. But when I’ve had enough of the fish and want a wild alternative, I head out on the highway and head for a nearby lake. As the waves hit me, I feel a warm, protective force envelop me. I know that I’m safe. And I know that if my body doesn’t betray me at the first sign of danger, I’ll be able to enjoy my fish, raw and unwrapped. In times of need, it’s the wild-caught fish that will keep me safe.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy fish at all. In fact, I love eating it so much that many of my healthiest friends who know me well also happen to be fish eaters. But they have their special rituals with fish. When they catch a fish, they cut it open, take a taste, rinse it with fresh water (sometimes to cleanse the fish), and eat it within 24 hours of fishing. This is so they are not risking food poisoning, and they are not leaving the fish to ferment on the rocks. In the time it takes to cook the fish, I have the opportunity to enjoy it in some way.

In contrast, when I eat a raw fish without having had a chance to remove all the tough skin and guts, I’m much less in the wild. For some reason, I’ve always been drawn to fish eaten raw, regardless of whether it’s wild-caught. In a food context, what I’m after is health, pureness, and cleanliness. And as I’ve learned, I can have a lot of these things when we begin to eat “the wild-caught fish.”

There is at least one caveat to this statement.

You might never come back

I think one reason I’ve enjoyed raw fish for as long as I have is because of my tendency toward impulsivity. I often act first and think later, and this impulsivity is often based on a desire to do something quickly. As I begin to work in my office on a project, I might decide to eat my raw fish at lunch when I’m supposed to go home at lunch time. And when I get home, I may eat it while my dog is playing or at the end of the evening before bed or just in the afternoon. And as I write about raw fish later, I may think to make some as a snack, or perhaps when I sit down to lunch for lunch with coworkers. By the time I write, I usually think things through thoroughly and decide what I’ll eat for dinner, then eat it before going to bed.

When I see my raw fish while I’m doing normal activities, or in the form of scrambled egg, I’ll immediately begin planning for the next day. If I’m working, I’ll immediately put myself out there to see if anybody would ask to compare or discuss the raw fish. If I go back to the restaurant, would people notice that I hadn’t been in the kitchen? Will others comment on how clean it looks? Do people give me weird looks? If someone does, I’ll look for an excuse to hide it. When the time comes to eat my raw fish, I’ll plan ahead a bit, try to go a bit wild and see what happens.

When I go out for a walk outside, and I see my plate of raw fish, I think about what I’ll want to cook, then I’ll see what I’ll want to make. Maybe I’ll put a poached salmon on a bed of kale, or some rice cake, or maybe a vegetable stew in a whole cast iron pan. If I’m eating raw fish outside in the heat, I think about the time to soak the fish in the tap water, or the time it will take to boil, soak, and roast the fish. If I boil and eat it in the slow cooker at home, what will I serve with the vegetables? If I go out with a friend who is also a raw fish eater, and I see her plate, I might start a fire, cook rice, or make rice cake. I might plan to have sushi or cold sardines on the side. Or perhaps I’ll go out with a group of five friends, one of whom is also a raw-fish eater, and we’ll grill steaks, shrimp, or chicken.