Dangerous Compassions

the mackerel experiment

Oh hey.  I’d like to tell you about the mackerel experiment.  Did you know some people like to eat fish?  Yes, those sleek animals that swim in the water.  Ming is one of those people.  Some people enjoy eating salmon, cod, or catfish.  Ming’s favorite type of fish to eat is mackerel.

I was talking to a friend and somehow we were talking about fish, and he said he liked to eat tinned mackerel.  But in the country where he lives, there is no tinned mackerel to be found.

I was like–wow, Ming likes to eat mackerel too.  A couple years ago we went to sushi, before the pandemic was here, and Ming had mackerel.

It honestly grossed me out, and I told him that I wished he had a fish partition, so I would not have to see the mackerel.  It became a joke.  Since then we have mentioned many times the idea of a fish partition.

fish partition

Vegans and real vegetarians, you may want a fish partition for the rest of this post!  There are some pics that include fish who have died for people to eat from a can.  So please close this tab and surf away, if you would not like to see such pics.

I offered to my friend to get some tinned mackerel for him.  He seemed excited, and we talked about specifications.  I was afraid of getting him a kind he wouldn’t like.  I took notes on the desirable characteristics of tinned mackerel according to this friend.

Then I told Ming about the whole project, knowing full well he would be very happy to embark on it.  The mackerel experiment would be fun for him as someone who likes to eat mackerel also, and he likes to be helpful and have a mission!

international market

There’s an international market in Las Vegas that’s big and has foods from many cultures.  Ming has a membership there.  We arrived at a time when few people were in there.  I vowed not to touch anything–I would go in, help Ming choose the mackerel type that best fit my friend’s specifications, and I would leave and sit in the car as Ming paid.

Things didn’t go entirely according to plan.  But I did a good job keeping my germ risk low as I could.  I want to be careful, but Ming and I are both vaccinated, and I don’t want to be ruled by fear.

We looked at about 12 different types of canned mackerel.  There was German kind, Middle Eastern kind?  UK, Slovakian?  Then the variations within each brand.  In tomato sauce, in cream sauce, spicy, plain.  It was hard to figure out sometimes if a certain type had skin and bones because the label didn’t say.  The preference was for no skin or bones.  And packed in olive oil.

We found the best option, which was Delamaris packed in sunflower oil.  None was in olive oil that we found at this store.  But we couldn’t tell if it had skin and bones.

So Ming bought two, so he could open one and see what it was like, before we shipped to another country for a birthday gift.  Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you it was our friend’s birthday.  We didn’t want to ship it, if it was the wrong kind.

Ming bought mackerel packed in horseradish for himself as a treat, and a plain kind packed in vegetable oil, for science.  I told him vegetable oil is mostly soy oil.

the mackerel experiment

At home, I had told Ming not to open the mackerel without me.  I said I wanted to take pictures.  He was happy to share with me the mackerel experiment.

Look at this cutie, smiling!

the mackerel experiment

The mackerel doesn’t have skin and looks like it will be appropriate.

the mackerel experiment

Ming ate the whole can, just like that.  I watched at the beginning.  “Are those bones?” I asked.  But there were no bones.

Yes!  We had found appropriate mackerel.  The mackerel experiment was a success.


I packaged up the unopened can, and I was going to include a note, but I just wrote on the box.  Ming was to send it–I warned him that he would have to do a customs form, and we were going to tell the truth.  “First try, we tell the truth,” I said.  I explained it had to cost less than $50 total including the shipping, or else our friend would have to pay a huge tax.

I printed the address, we taped it up well, and we felt good about the package.  Ming went to the postie, and mailing was a success.  He told me afterward that he told the worker–the contents was canned fish.  “What kind of fish?” the postal worker asked.

We thought it was funny that Ming had to specify on the form that it was mackerel.  So the postal persons all along the way could decide if it was good enough to steal?  Hopefully they do not like mackerel.  Maybe once the friend’s country is reached, postal workers will be like, “What the hell is mackerel?”  Since it’s not sold locally, I’m guessing folx don’t enjoy it there.

“O que diabos e ‘mackerel?'” they will ask and decide to deliver it.  Their curiosity will not get the best of them.

We’ll see.  They needed a bigger package to attach the customs form too, so Ming bought a larger envelope on the spot, and they slipped the package I’d prepared into another package.

Bon voyage, dead fish.  I never sent a dead fish in the mail before, though I heard of the practice!  This will hopefully arrive safely, express love, and provide nostalgic pelagic pleasure.

Love to the fish eaters and all birthday people.  Love to the kind virgos such as myself.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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