You guys didn’t realize what a milestone it was for me to serve flounder the other night without a flurry of cautions. I didn’t think I would ever calm down about fish bones; in fact, I avoided cooking fish for years simply because of bone phobia.
The way seafood is handled is very different now. When I was a kid, my grandfather would fillet fish with great care and then would still solemnly remind me to be very cautious. Then he would invariably say, “George Washington died choking on a fish bone.”
For many years, I ate fish in tiny terrified bites, thinking of George Washington and how horrible it would be to have a bone lodged in one’s esophagus. I also worried about his wooden teeth and wondered if he had sawdust breath.
I haven’t even encountered a fish bone in a long, long time.The varieties of fish that were cheap and plentiful in the 1960s are neither now, and due to factory fish processing, haphazard amateur filleting is left to people who actually catch their dinner.
Of course, the George Washington story was a total lie, as was the wooden teeth malarkey, and the possibility of dying in any way by fish bone is ridiculously tiny.
So, little fishes, try not to worry about the weird scare stories you hear–your time would be better spent worrying about real things, like extinctions.