A Joyce Act


Sharon Thomas - Teacher Extraordinaire

I wiggled in the hard seat of my desk. “You have twenty minutes to read before we begin our discussion,” Mrs. Thomas said. She sat at the front of the class, peering out over her glasses, the chain draped around her neck, her spine straight and strong. I opened the little paperback book on my desk and began. I read the first paragraph. “Once upon a time, and a very good time it was…”  Then I read it again, and again.

I was  fifteen and I was in love.

Ok, so I was in love with just about every book Sharon Thomas ever had me read. So, you can imagine how I felt when I confided in her that I wanted to be a writer like Joyce, Hemingway, Walker, Hinton…and she said to me, “You’re no S.E. Hinton, my dear. You need practice.”

Fucking story of my life. Practice. Every day I practiced Ballet, I practiced writing, I practiced Ballet again. It took me a bit to realize, that was it. Sharon wasn’t discouraging me, she was pointing out the way.

Well, I’ve discovered that I’m no Julia Child either. I still need to practice. Practice is the journey. It is the joyous act of participation. It is how we find the hero in ourselves even if it only in the kitchen. Our masterpieces do not come simply from desire to cook or to write or to dance, they come from the act it’s self. They come from the spontaneous meeting of place, time and personal wisdom that has come to us through our practice.

I spent years trying to explain the idea of practice to my students. Most were more interested in being on stage. The last time I met up with JJ I tried to explain it to him. He said it didn’t “work” for him.  I’m not doing very well in passing on this little nugget of wisdom. I guess I need more practice.

Practice Fish

Marinades/Acids: Soy Sauce, Lemon/Lime/Orange, Alcohol, Wasabi, Miso, Salad Dressings, Vinaigrette, Jam, Chutney

Fats: Olive Oil, Butter

Sugar: Brown, Maple Syrup, Honey

Herbs and Spices: Ginger, Garlic, Mint, Tarragon, Thyme, Salt, Pepper, Dill

Try different combinations of these on your fish. Remember marinades need the added ingredient of time. The framework should go something like this, an acid, a fat, a sugar and a spice or two. If you are feeling hesitant, cut your fish into smaller pieces and try different things on each piece.

What's on your fish?

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