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Eating Carp Submitted by: apikovsky
Kiev, Ukraine

In the US, carp is usually seen as a cheap and bony fish, but in Ukraine, it’s a staple of the cuisine. Whether fried, dried, or smoked, carp is omnipresent. When I visited my grandmother, we would make the fish at least once every few days, and it was always a day-long process. First, we’d head out together in the morning to the neighborhood’s outdoor market, where the fishmonger kept his fish in a big bucket on the sidewalk. My grandmother, at 80 years old, would reach with her bare hands into the bucket, fish out a fat member of the species, inspect it, then either approve it or throw it right back in. We would return home with a big bag full of swimming fish, which we’d drain in the tub then leave out for a few hours to dry. In those hours, the apartment would grow saturated with the smell of fish. You couldn’t go into the bedroom, the bathroom, not even the balcony, without feeling that you were coated with the perfume of carp. But it would get even worse as my grandmother boned the carp and then fried it to a golden brown. By the time it was served – a huge platter piled high with hunks of the fish – my family could think of nothing but carp, and we would eat several whole fish each. The fact that we had to extract dozens of bones didn’t quell our appetite; if anything, it just made us appreciate the sweet meat inside even more. For days afterward, the smell would linger and slowly dissipate, until the process began all over again a few days later.

 

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