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We were soooo close!

I posted a few months ago about my fear of finding eyes looking at me from my plate while in Italy....well....we made it through 17 days, and then it happened! Our final dinner in Venice. Weather was perfect, wine was great, chatting with fellow diners....ordered dinner, including the sea bass as suggested by our server. Did not look at the menu. Our mistake! Finished some great pasta, and then our fish was served- you guessed it- complete with eyeballs! Ewwww. We laughed, my husband de-headed it and buried it under the garnish, and we ate some wonderfully cooked fresh fish! 😬

Posted by
8293 posts

I know of someone who will never eat "anything with a face on it", whether or not the face is on his plate.

Posted by
958 posts

Hahaha - count yourself lucky you only had to look at it a few moments. I ended up with a fish eyeball in my mouth when dining in a dimly lit restaurant in Bucerias. Thank heavens I felt its roundness and didn't bite down on it.

Posted by
6871 posts

That's why I order lasagne. . . . . or pizza . . . . .or Chinese food when I'm in Italy.
I've been out and watched Italian families eat out on a Saturday night. I'm a relatively big eater, and I've never seen any meal with so much food presented. I don't know where they put all that food.

Posted by
5017 posts

Next time (if there is a next time,) before you hide the head under the garnish, pick out the meaty cheeks. Yummy.

Speaking of not eating anything with a face, I once had an acquaintance who said she never ate anything with a face, except fish, seafood, and poultry. She was serious, too. A niece doesn't eat anything with a face, but she eats shrimp. I think next time I'm cooking for a family dinner, I'll get some shrimp from the Mexican grocery - heads on!

Posted by
1350 posts

I hate eyeballs too! Years ago in Poland an acquaintance took us into the countryside, and into a lakeside restaurant. It was definitely a "no frills" kind of place, and being Friday it was packed with locals. They literally picked the fish out of a cement tank, threw them in to boil and then plated one for each of us. The locals were laughing and pointing as I tried to do something with it. I tried to be polite but only managed to mangle it a bit and eat very little. Worst meal I ever had in Europe.

Posted by
12920 posts

I'm served whole fish with eye balls all the time in several restaurants in California.
Eyes are kind of hard and chewy, so I don't eat them too often, but everything else in the head is fair game.
Do they decapitate the fish in the Midwest?

Posted by
142 posts

Sam, yes, exactly like that!!! Love that movie.

Roberto, in restaurants nearby, the whole fish is presented prior to preparing it-when it reappears at the table, head, skin and bones have been removed.

Posted by
293 posts

Oh ha ha that Chinese Restaurant Christmas vid is so funny! Then how he puts the tail in his pocket! Ha! In Nuremburg, there is a restaurant that sells whole carp that comes to you in a big upright circle on the plate, with the head biting the tail.

And on the northern French coast (Calais, Boulogne, etc) every French waiter can de-head, de-tail, and de-bone your fish tableside, in seconds, like a BOSS - usually using the two-utensils-in-one-hand method, as they do.

Could you tell your Italian waiter, "Pesce Senza Capo" or something similar? (Just made that phrase up...)

Posted by
2713 posts

I don't mind the idea of a fish with head being served to me...but I have no clue how to eat it. I buy fish filleted by the seafood guy at the market and that's also how it comes in restaurants here. In Europe I seem to order shellfish or poultry/game/beef more but I do enjoy fish. How, exactly, do you eat it when served whole? Does anyone have a video?

Posted by
213 posts

In many cultures, they want the entire animal, usually fish or chicken, presented to them on the plate, There are many delicious parts of the head, feet, and neck, as well. Also, when buying fish, they want to see the eyes, since they use it to judge the freshness of the fish. In Chinatown, live fish is generally 50-75% more expensive than the dead stuff, since you know it is fresh.
We were on the RS Greece tour and the group was served whole roasted trouts, head and all. Several people in the group could not handle the head. So, taking one for the team, I disposed of all those heads (ate them). I do draw the line on eyeballs, just not that tasty to me.

Posted by
8291 posts

Thank goodness I've never been served fish with the head on in SF or the Bay Area.. I couldn't handle that!
I don't understand the logic of it telling you it's fresh when it's served cooked. Buying it uncooked, with the head on telling you it's fresh, that makes sense. But still, no thanks, I'll stick to buying filets at Whole Foods!

Posted by
213 posts

You're correct that once cooked, the eyes don't tell you anything about the freshness of the fish. It applies when buying the fish uncooked. In most cultures, they want the whole thing because they think that it's a waste to throw anything away. They have always found ways to use the various parts for dishes. For instance, fish head soup is really tasty. The cartilage is very tasty after boiling in a soup base. For me, one of my favorite dishes is chicken feet in a sweet bean sauce. It is so good. Well, to each person, their own.

Posted by
5697 posts

When I buy trout at the market, it comes cleaned, but with the head and tail, so that's how I cook it and serve it. Pop out the spine/bones, with head and tail attached, eat the rest. Never really thought about the eyes.

Posted by
11 posts

In Northern Alaska, the local Inupiat Eskimos make something called caribou head soup. As you guessed, it is made with parts of the caribous head. My local Eskimo friends tell me the elders like to eat the eyeballs. Mmmmm.