Bacalao is the bane of my existence. When you think about in-laws, it probably conjures up thousands of other points of contention. But, you’re probably not married into a Cuban family. That makes it sound like they’re the mafia. Close enough.
So, if you don’t know what bacalao is, it’s basically codfish. The best way to describe it is going to be offensive. There’s no way around it. If you have small dogs, you’ll understand. If you don’t have their anal glands expressed, the result is what my husband refers to as “fish ass.” That’s what bacalao smells like. When I walk into my mother-in-law’s home on a Friday and that’s what she’s cooking, it’s like getting smacked in the face with a wall of fish ass.
I have politely turned down bacalao numerous times. I love tilapia, salmon and any kind of shellfish, but keep your anal gland, fish-ass bacalao away from me.
If you don’t know Cuban mothers, they don’t take no for an answer, especially when it comes to food.
The last time I turned down bacalao, I heard my mother-in-law “oooh” and “ahhh” over bacalao like it was some kind of aphrodisiac for an hour. She shouts (because when you’re Cuban, it’s all shouting) “Try it! You’ll love it! You don’t know if you don’t try it!”
When the other family members catch wind, it’s the same argument all over again from them. From my kid’s tia, abuelo … even my nephew chimed in recently.
My sister-in-law’s boyfriend made bacalao fritters. All I could think was, ‘Don’t try to hide fish ass inside breading like it’s some kind of crab cake. Don’t insult crab cakes like that!’
I feel compelled to say that my mother-in-law is a phenomenal cook. I’m not just saying this because she might see it, which she will. Her yellow rice, which is actually orange and made with Pabst Blue Ribbon, is one of the best meals I’ve ever had. It’s not far behind the lobster ravioli I had at some fancy schmancy restaurant in New Orleans. Her black beans and rice is only rivaled my husband’s. (He adds more vinegar, which is “white people” for AWESOME)
My kids prefer her to food to mine on any given night. In fact, if it weren’t for my mother-in-law, I am sure my children would literally never consume protein. But, seriously … I have never been so pressured to eat something I have no intention of eating.
I told them, “I’m like a vegetarian, except the only thing I won’t eat is bacalao.”
I just know I’m gonna get hosed. She’s gonna sneak that crap fish into some kind of lasagna, casserole or some other irresistible white people food, damn her! I will spend the rest of my life trying to sniff out fish ass in every single thing I eat at my mother-in-law’s.
If only there was some way to pay her back with some awful white people food.
But, really, what can you do with bologna and mayo that is so awesomely offensive?