Rather than spending my birthday at a fancy restaurant with my family, I spent my 18th birthday dip-netting on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. Or rather, I spent my birthday sitting on the dirt beach watching my half-brother dig a hole twice the size of his body while my dad fished for salmon.
While Alaska in general is known for its wild salmon, Kenai is popular for King salmon, and my birthday just happened to fall on one of the best times to go fishing.
I had never been fishing and I had never tried salmon.
I don’t even like seafood. I will tolerate shrimp, but it has to be smothered in sauce or breading. But when you go to Alaska, you just have to try salmon.
I had warned my dad that I probably wasn’t going to like it, but he and his wife both assured me that salmon didn’t taste fishy and that it would be different than regular seafood.
I was hoping that it wouldn’t be recognizable as fish on my plate. But when I sat down at the table, a bright pink slab of fish taunted me. It was even covered in a thick black sauce that made me feel like I was about to eat tar.
My dad must have seen my face because he said, “Don’t worry, if you don’t like it, we can make you something else.”
All eyes were on me as I took my first bite. If I was at home with my mom, the salmon would have already been in my napkin. But I tried to carefully chew and swallow without tasting.
I honestly don’t even remember tasting it. The soft texture, the way it just falls apart in your mouth, is a turn-off for me. I would prefer if my chocolatey dessert fell apart, not my fishy dinner.
I ate mac and cheese for dinner that night, and my dad made it up to me by making my favorite (pieorgie lasagna) the next night.
I will do many things – attempt to hike to a crashed bomber, camp out in the Alaskan wilderness and fly in a tiny airplane (haven’t done this one yet), but my dad and I both agree that my list of things I will not do consists of dip-netting and bike riding.