This top security sleuth lands a trout

Dining With Duvall By Lynn Duvall

My companions from Girl Scout Camp River Glen held their monthly dinner at Shaker's in Glendale last week.

I asked my friend if she was set for our Northern California reunion in July. She said she hoped to go, but she had some things to do that might conflict. "Things," I said, "What things?" She said with a sigh, "personal things." I retorted, "What things could be more important?" Naturally, everyone gave me a pity look. The one you get if you pester like a child. Someone laughed to ease the tension and said, "Well, Lynn, that's the writer in you. The need to know." So true. Years ago, when I lived in the Philippines, my husband had a military security clearance that was top secret. One day, I asked him, "What's the exact title of your clearance?" He mumbled "eyes only..need to know."

As soon as I heard that I cried, "Need to know! That's it. I have a need to know. I am cleared forever. Top Security." That's why I love this job. Everyone lets me pepper them with questions, patiently answering. For each of my interviewees, I have enough notes to write a five-page piece for the New Yorker. Sadly, the New Yorker hasn't called yet.

While I'm waiting for the call, I surf the Internet. In the old days, I used commercial search engines, but now that's too frustrating. The first 20 sites, returned for a search phrase, list hotels, realtors or books for sale. Now, for research I use specialized search engines. To skim the Web for pleasure, I click links inside my e-mail. Then I click links inside those links. In this way I truly travel far afield. It's all part of my "need to know."

In my travels, I've discovered a Web site devoted to lexpionage, a word that author Paul McFedries defines as "the sleuthing of new words and phrases." These words appear multiple times in newspapers, magazines, book, Web sites and other recorded sources. Paul literally wrote the book on these words, calling it "Word Spy". His Web site, by the same name, includes new words used frequently, like metrosexual, and other exotic phrases which may never become popular.

At first glance, I thought that the "Word Spy's" word of the day, "ranchburger," was a new culinary creation. Instead, ranchburger refers to the ranch-style home which is ripe for renovation. Evidentally, ranch homes have become such great makeover candidates that M. Caren Connolly has devoted an entire book to the topic: "Ranches: Design Ideas for Renovating, Remodelling and Building New."

I didn't like that word and won't be using it. In the subject index, I found a food and drink category. Clicking on that link turned up a new list of words and phrases including broccoflower, dashboard dining, gastronaut, heirloom pork, stealth fat and tofurkey. I chose to explore meat tooth.

Meat tooth is a fondness or craving for meat. McFedries notes, "This term is a rhyming play on the well-known phrase sweet tooth, a craving or fondness for sweet food, which has been in the language for over 600 years (the Oxford English Dictionary's earliest citation is from 1390)."

McFedries gives the following citation as the first recorded instance of meat tooth: "Seafood is hardly the only food product whose demographic profile skews toward the feminine, as Candler points out, women also eat more fruit and more mint-chocolate-chip ice cream than men do. But unlike these other foods, seafood may offer a unique way of connecting with men, and Tim Ryan, senior vice president of the Culinary Institute of America, thinks he knows what it is: appeal to their meat tooth.

"'Men are attracted to different terminology than women are,' says Ryan.

"That's not a new marketing breakthrough, but we can apply it to seafood.

We've found that men are attracted to names and descriptors that are more meat-like. A 'salmon steak' just sounds more manly than 'filet of salmon.'"

(Paul Lukas, "The Fish Business Trolls for Men," Fortune, July 6, 1998.)

Is that cool or what? Inspired by the masculine fish concept, I designed a grilled fish recipe for my hubby Bob. Occasionally there's an upside to the "need to know" syndrome. In this case, it's a delicious way to tease your meat tooth with a Macho Man's Stuffed Trout.

Lynn Duvall at boblynn@ix.netcom.com or in care of the Valley Sun.

"Wordspy: The Word Lovers Guide to Modern Culture," by Paul McFedries, contains over 1,000 words and phrases with examples, notes, trends, stats,stories and tidbits and is available at Barnes & Noble or online at amazon.com.

Macho Man's Stuffed Trout

? 1 large whole trout (about 1 pound) with head and tail

? 6 giant scallops

? 8 slightly defrosted cooked tiger shrimp or large shrimp with tail

? 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

? 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

? 2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro

? 1/2 teaspoon ground sage

? 1/2 teaspoon celery salt

? freshly ground pepper, to taste

? length of very thin copper wire

1. Heat gas grill to medium high or let charcoal cook down to attain a white ash. Do not let flames appear during cooking.

2. Rinse trout with cold water and dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, mix together sesame seeds, parsley, cilantro, sage, celery salt and ground pepper. Put 1/3 of the seasoning mix inside the trout cavity. Line the cavity with scallops. Add 1/3 seasoning mix. The shrimp should be defrosted only to the point where you can remove the tails. Remove tails. Tuck the shrimp into the cavity and add the final 1/3 seasoning. Gripping the fish firmly, wind the copper wire around it to secure the filling tightly inside it. Tie off end of wire.

3. If you have a grill food holder, designed for this purpose, set the wire-wrapped fish inside the flat basket and secure the top tightly. Otherwise, wrap the wire very closely around the fish and put it directly on the grill.

4. Cook on one side for 12 minutes. Turn and cook for additional 12 minutes. The defrosting shrimp filling will keep the fish and scallops moist while the outside skin crisps.

5. Remove from grill. Cut, unwrap and remove the wire carefully. Present on platter if you are skilled at deboning fish. Otherwise, debone in the kitchen.

6. To Debone: Grasp the head and tug it to find the skeleton. Pull the skeleton out as though unzipping a zipper. Using a fork, gently push the fish flesh away from the bones. Work quickly so the fish doesn't cool. A skilled deboner can remove all the bones, intact, in less than a minute. Lift skin from flesh. Discard head, skeleton and skin.

7. Serve with basmati rice and creamed spinach. Provide soy sauce. Serves four.

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