A Fish Story (of Sorts)

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October 15th 2006
Published: October 15th 2006
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No way could I ever remember the name of the restaurant (much less pronounce it!) but never will I forget the experience. I walked all over Marseilles, from Notre Dame de la Garde to Palais Longchamps. Coming down from the cathedral, I passed a small restaurant/fish market, that had its seafood tantalizingly displayed outside in total artful form. I was booking it soo fast down the hill that the sight registered in my brain after I had passed it. I put my stride in reverse for a second look. The prawns were three feet long and a foot wide... well, maybe not that large. They seemed to me to be though. Let's just say they were HUGE. They were soooo artfully displayed... It was too much... the magnetic pull was worse than someone grabbing me by my collar. I recall a caricature of a fat woman being pulled into a doughnut shop like iron to a magnet.. I am shown to a table facing a lit fire. Hmmm.. I can build my own lunch... what would I wish? Prawns, of course. And, is time to have some oysters. Half dozen of those killers outside. Sooo.. six and six. Mind you, these suckers were huge. Niiice lunch. Twenty bucks... A bit more than I wish to pay for lunch, but after all, who cares right now. I gazed about me at the other patrons as I watch this wonderful fire in front of me, half way aware of one of the cooks. He was black as the ace of spades... with an air of the domicile about him. I mean, although he was just a helper I could imagine the kitchen would be incomplete without him. A servant to be sure, but with a satisfied look about him that he is as happy to serve as those he served are happy to have him. Ohh.. here it comes. My eyes bug out... I expected large prawns, but I wasn't prepared for them standing straight up... partly stuck on a mound of ice, elegantly decorated, with the six oysters delicately placed between the prawns. What a lunch! Haaaaaappy happy camper am I. What could be better? Sheeeeeze. The next part was rigged, sure as the devil.

The chef's helper comes out with a fish, and places it on a plate on a side board next to the fire and very leisurely starts basting it. It must've been one of the fish at the market down at Veux Port that I had seen earlier that day. "Hmmm... maybe I should have had fish", I thought. Then he takes it and places it on a grill in the fireplace. He walks away, and I am left watching it cook. He returns every few minutes to baste it. My prawns... however succulent they were, all of a sudden become secondary to this spectacle in front of me. I am aware of another overseer... this time the chef, comes out, and eyes this tantalizing specimen of the sea. Finally it is lifted off of the grill, and placed upon a platter and disappears into the kitchen. The waiter disappears behind him, and emerges again, with the poisson.... so artfully garnished, and brings it to one of the patrons sitting near me.
That was all I could stand. I call the waiter over, and ask for the menu. I am to have poisson, sure as ever. Never mind that it cost another twenty dollars. Never mind that I had already spent twenty dollars on these puny little prawns on my plate.


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