Strong Island

I dunno, people keep calling it that. It’s a joke, you see, because Long Island is actually pretty lame. But it is not a bad place to spend a few days in June.

This past weekend I stayed with my friend Yan’s grandparents not far from Port Jefferson. They live right on the Sound, so we got to go out on their dock and watch birds and get bit by mosquitos. We also went fishing in the evenings, fruitlessly on Friday night and awesomely on Saturday night because there was thunder and lightning and I caught my first ever fish. It was a small striped bass, of which there is no picture because we threw it back. I don’t understand how that is an acceptable practice. Are fish typically able to recover from being stabbed in the cheek with a sharp hook and suffocated for a few minutes?

But the big rite of passage for me this weekend was actually dinner on Saturday at PJ’s Fish House. For reasons of habit rather than religion, I kept more or less kosher up until last summer, when I realized (in Israel, land of the secular Jew) that I was being silly. So on Saturday I had my first real seafood dinner—clam chowder, steamers, mussels and an entire lobster, all fresh from the Sound.

My verdict: The clam chowder was very good but too rich for me. The clams were unbelievably great, and the mussels were fine. I think I enjoyed the lobster—it was certainly a lot of fun to eat—but by the end I felt sort of sick. I mean, that is a shit ton of seafood. Plus we were dipping it in butter. I’d probably do it again, though maybe not all at once. In any case, I still prefer normal fish. I don’t remember ever getting sick of fish—especially not sushi, which I can eat almost endlessly—whereas seafood starts to overwhelm me pretty quickly.

At least I have a good excuse for breaking the covenant of my people or whatever. As Yan’s grandfather, the son of a rabbi and a former biology professor, said, “As a botanist, I feel it is my duty to eat as many species as possible.” I think the same logic could just as easily apply to foodies, don’t you?

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