Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tuna Riff

I had far too much fun from October 2008 ( my birthday month) until the end of the year, and yes, until Sunday January 4th. Carb load extraordinaire. That came to a screeching halt Monday morning, January 5, 2009. Like Oprah and most of America, Ray and I began our diet. We aren't gnawing on our furniture yet, but it's a challenge. The extra hard part is that I didn't finish my pint of Haagen Dazs - white chocolate raspberry truffle - prior to Monday. It is calling my name from the freezer. But I digress.

An integral part of any diet is tuna fish. Here's a short essay I wrote last year about tuna. (It is possible to conjure up words on any subject) :
A can of tuna fish appears simple. A neat little tin, compact, and seemingly ageless, it lounges on the grocery store shelf and provides lunch for millions. Tuna packed in oil. Open the can and get rid of the gooey oil spill, mop up hands that smell like fish for days. Now, and this is progress, there are cans or bags of tuna in spring water, solid chunk, albacore, solid albacore, and some kind of gold medal albacore tuna. What? Did they play classical music for our little fish in their cushy watery environment?

Preparing tuna is a very personal experience, and frankly I cannot fathom ordering tuna sandwiches in public. Any tuna I see at a deli or restaurant looks awfully mushy for my taste. The key to tuna is a well-drained can. When the tuna plops out onto the plate it should not still be swimming in water or oil. With a fork, I fluff and stir it around on the plate. Then I open the Miracle Whip and whisk out a mere forkful. Not a glob, not a scoop, not more than one forkful of this white concoction gets mixed into my tuna. I am disappointed if I have somehow over measured and the tuna ends up gushy. I will eat it, but it will not satisfy. However, if the dry tuna is delicately touched by the whipped dressing, and spread upon toast or a cracker without seepage, then my tuna meal succeeds.

My husband has no boundaries when it comes to the Miracle Whip application. He splatters his tuna in a bowl after a quick drain, plunges his fork into the dressing, and dumps a huge glop onto the tuna. He then, oh the horror, mixes the tuna whipped fork into his sweet relish jar and introduces green flecks. Tuna itself has a weird consistency, but having extra mysterious crunchy items makes my mouth pucker. My mother chopped up celery, another useless vegetable, thus adding a crunchy wet green stringy item into her tuna. Fortunately, grown up and now in my married life, Ray and I respect our tuna privacy and do not proffer a community bowl.

A tuna discussion can be rewarding. Everyone has an opinion. Folks argue for mayonnaise over Miracle Whip. Others add apples or other fruits, along with walnuts or pecans to make a tuna salad. People serve tuna on crackers, bread, rolls, or on a bed of lettuce. They might top it with tomato or hard-boiled egg slices. For such an enduring staple of life, tuna preparation is an art form. I prefer to think of myself as a purist, dedicated to enjoying the flavor of tuna without extraneous factors mixed in, other than my single dollop of Whip!

Feel free to comment on your tuna creations. Also, what ice cream flavor is calling your name?



  1. Going in reverse order -- ice cream never calls my name. Oh, I'll eat a little of it now and then, but I don't really think about it or desire it. Now, if the discussion were on chips....

    Now on to mother got organized once, and made up a tuna spinach casserole recipe she found in a magazine. She made FIVE batches of it, froze four, and served one. We sat down to supper, took a bite of this goosh, and to a person, we all gagged. My dad walked over to the sink and dumped his supper down the disposal and gave us kids permission to do the same. That's the only time he ever did something like that - he'd eat most anything. It was SO BAD! He also disposed of the other four casseroles stashed in the freezer.

    My husband, however, makes Tuna Melts. Like you, he adds very little Miracle Whip to well drained tuna, spreads it on bread, tops it with a good layer of grated cheddar cheese and sticks it under the broiler until the cheese melts. They were my kids favorites when they were little. So, since my sweet husband volunteered for cooking duty this Christmas, he made his famous tuna melts for our Christmas Eve dinner -- they're still a hit at the Lahaie Lair!

  2. I too am trying to cut back on the feed bag or eat more healthy. Tuna salad is a good choice for me. But I'm picky. Light tuna packed in water. I drain the can and give the juice to Matt and Cinders. Then I start making my masterpiece. Light mayo, honey mustard, relish, diced onions, chopped apple, walnuts, boiled egg all added in appropriate measures. I've been known to add celery and diced green peppers but not often. Then spread onto two fresh slices of multi-grain bread, add a slice of swiss cheese, slap it together. Pour Dr Pepper over ice, grab a napkin, head for the reading chair and a waiting book. Yum.