It became a game, after a few days, between the pool grill cooks and I. Before lunch pretty much every day I would expectantly wander over and ask what was today’s fresh fish. The first full day out of Fort Lauderdale, a sea day, I was told it was red snapper, and the filets resting on ice looked like it—the red-tinted skin on one side the tell. Simply grilled, it tasted like the genuine article too, delicious, sweet, too, served with a little green salad. Perfect, in fact.
After that, the game was on. “What’s the fish today? I would ask.
“Flounder,” said the cook the next day. On subsequent days came “ocean perch,” “hake,” “tilapia,” “haddock.”
What emerged after a few days of fish roulette is that each one of these different fishes looked and tasted pretty much the same. Perhaps telling was that none of the filets had skin on one side. They were fine, white and mild tasting, but only a fish expert could tell them apart.
One day, intrigued for no other good reason but ennui, I reverted to basic journalism practice and consulted more than one source. “What is the fish today?” I brightly asked the grill cook.
“Flounder,” he announced, and I smiled my humble thanks.
But when we took a table, I asked the waiter what today’s fish was. “Ocean perch,” he said.
I couldn’t imagine what might account for this fishy discrepancy, so I stepped over to the grill again and asked the cook—it was none other than the executive sous chef—and asked him if he was sure the fish in front of him and which I was about to eat was in fact flounder.
“Oh yes,” he said in accented English. “Flounder is a flat fish,” he said, patting his palms together horizontally so I could understand what “flat” meant. “In German we call it flunder.”
Well, that was that. Teutonic reasoning had triumphed. If “flounder” could be explained in German, it existed. And it was being served today. Any other questions?