Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The mystery of the left fish

One morning last week I stumbled sleepily into the kitchen and began the process of nuking a cup of chai. Dan was already up and pottering around. He said "Did you leave a bag of fish out to thaw last night?"

"Huh?" I grunted. I thought I was still dreaming.

"When I was ready to go to bed last night, there was this big plastic bag of tilapia here on the counter." he said with a question mark in his voice."I didn't remember you saying anything about it, so I put it in the refrigerator."

  Now I was awake. "What fish? We didn't have any tilapia or any other fish in the freezer or anywhere else."

 "Well, it's in the fridge. Take a look at it." he said, annoyed that I didn't believe him.

I open the fridge and found a large white shopping bag. "Ooof!" I grunted as I pulled it out. "It's heavy." It must have weighed 4-5 pounds. It was filled with individually packaged white fish fillets, still mostly frozen.

I was incredulous. "Where the heck did this come from? Maybe it is Dan and Tracy's (our neighbors) or maybe Lynn left it here before she went over to Tracy's for dinner last night."

Suddenly it dawned on me that the stuff was defrosting, and I popped it into the freezer while I struggled with the mystery. Later that morning I asked Dan and Tracy if it was theirs. They said no, their tilapia was in their own freezer. I called Lynn. She said it wasn't hers, that she had never even come in our house that night. She had gone directly to Tracy's house for dinner.

We stopped by to see Darrin and Cherie, the new owners of the Hotel Posada del Rio Sonora, bu they also disavowed any knowledge of the mystery fish. What made this even harder to understand was that the Mexicans we know would not come into another person's house uninvited. They are very polite that way, and to them a home is sort of a sanctuary where for the most part, only family are invited in. No one we know would have entered our house without our permission when we weren't there.

Besides we couldn't imagine who among the Mexicans we know would have the money to casually give away 5 pounds of fish. Nothing about it made sense. They would need it for their own families. I asked Beto and Vicky about it and they seemed as mystified as we were.

Our speculations became wilder and wilder. There is something about an unknown that demands a solution. We couldn't let it rest until we came up with an answer. "Maybe someone was passing by with a bag of fish and came in to rob us and then accidentally left it there." I proposed. Lynn asked "Is anything missing?"  I had to admit that everything was in its place, and that this was an unlikely scenario anyway.

Besides I was pretty sure I had locked the front door. A big wind had come up earlier, and the front door blew open with a loud crash. I hauled myself up from where I sat contentedly knitting and closed and locked the door.

"Maybe someone is trying to poison us." Dan proposed.  I had to cop to also thinking of that one. (How cynical and paranoid we both are!...A product of living in the USA too long?) We joked about giving a piece of the fish to the neighbor's dog before we ate any of it ourselves, but neither of us took the poison idea all that seriously.

Finally we had to admit that we just didn't know, and maybe we never would. Somehow that is innately unsatisfying. The world seems dangerously out of balance when a thing like that hangs out there without an answer. Nevertheless, there you have it. We have no idea where the fish came from.

Admitting that we didn't know where it came from opened the door to eating the stuff. I proposed a fish fry. I carefully defrosted some of the fish. I gently dipped it in flour, then in beaten egg, and finally I lovingly dipped into seasoned bread crumbs. I sauteed it in a shallow pan in some good oil. Served up with a big salad and some of Lynn's home grown squash, it made a dandy feast. It was delectable, and everyone loved it, but the consensus was that it was sea bass, not tilapia. Nevertheless, there was so much of it that there is still more in the freezer.
Me and the fish

The question doesn't weigh so heavily now. Instead, there is gratitude for whoever left us with this generous gift. To quote Douglas Adams (Hitchhikers's Guide to the Galaxy), "So long, and thanks for all the fish!"


  1. One of those little mysteries. If you forget about it, one day suddenly you will find out. Keep trying to solve the puzzle, and it will remain a mystery. Glad it was tasty.

  2. What a mystery. I would have gone through all the same motions as you. Somehow, the sharing of it helped share the mystery too. Good move. It looks delicious. But I'm disturbed by the unsolved part of the mystery! Now you've got me wondering about it! Thanks June! (LOL) Good writing by the way!