How I Learned To Love Eel

About 40 years ago my family lived in Bridgeport Connecticut. My late father had an elderly pal named Jimmy Fiorito. He was a nice guy and he was well off financially. My father did a little side work for him and it appeared he trusted and treated my old man like a son. Well Jimmy liked to go fishing. One day he showed up at our door with a few salt water eel he had caught, they were still alive. My Pop told him thank you and let him know how we all loved eel. They were quite large about 4 to 5 feet long.

My father placed one in the kitchen sink and the battle began. The eel was not happy as dad tried to kill it and get it ready for the fry pan. That eel thrashed and really made a mess of the sink and the surrounding walls. After it was properly cleaned my mother cut it in about 2 inch chunks and fried it. I did not like it and ate something else. Now remember I said he brought a few eels. Well, my father told me to take the others and dig a hole and bury them in the back yard.

Moving along, about two weeks later Jimmy showed up once again with more eels. A lot more eels, about 40 or 50 all alive in a basket. I had to dig a very large hole and dump them in the hole. Now I was about 8 years old or so and the eels would not stay in the hole. I started to bop them with the shovel and throw dirt on them but they kept crawling out of the hole. I put them back in the basket and placed the basket in my red wagon. The end of our block was a good sized stream, we always got wet there so mom could have a reason to whip us. I brought all the eels to the stream and set them free and this is pre-"Born Free," the movie. I really don't know what my father finally said to his friend, but we never had eel at the house again.

In 1982 I spent some time in Japan and tried the barbeque fresh water eel. I must have eaten it two or three times a week. Now I have it any time I go to a Japanese Restaurant it's my favorite!

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