Thursday, September 17, 2009


When my grandpa was a little boy, during the Spanish civil war, they were very poor. So every piece of food was cherished and seen as something very valuable.

One day my great-grandmother managed to get one of those salted, dried fish that are still eaten all over Spain, bacalao.
She hung it in the kitchen pantry, high enough so the cat couldn't reach.
And there it hung, waiting to be cooked at a later date.
Or so she thought...

Because, from the day it hung there, my grandfather pinched little bits off the back of the fish & ate them in secret. He liked the salty taste of the fish, and it was a welcome addition to the plain meals of potatoes, bread and olive oil they generally had. He seemed to be continuously hungry.

The fish, however, gave him away: slowly, as he pinched little bits of fish, the skin of the fish started to harden, and curl, until it turned into a leathery, salted tube of fish.

One day, my great-grandmother walked into the pantry, ready to cook part of the fish.
And there it was; hard and round like a baseball bat.
It didn't take her long to figure out who had been eating it, though.

She took the rock hard fish and spanked my grandfather's tush until it was red and palpitating.

Needless to say; he never pinched pieces of fish again.
But his love for salty seafood remained....

I often think about this story.
Not only because it's one of the stories my grandfather loves to tell (with a grin and a mischievous glimmer in his eye), but also because, in a way, it's a metaphor for life.

No matter what age you are, or who you are in life, it seems that learning never ends. Every day sheds a new light on your life and that what you're doing with it, or what you should be doing with it. You often don't know when decisions will have a good or bad outcome, until you've taken them.

We take little snippets of that what is handed to us, and sometimes want more than what we get. So we take risks. But how do you know when the fish is going to curl up, and tell you you've been taking a wrong turn? 

And even if you do; wasn't the fish worth the smack on the bum?


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