The legendary chef answers the question…What did you eat today, Jeremiah Tower?
So enthused was I by my Gulf of Mexico condo caretaker Abrahám thrusting a squirming octopus into my car window the other day, I asked him what else could he bring me from a mile or so off the shore where I usually sit with an ice cooler full of beers to watch pink sunsets coming in from Vera Cruz. “Boquinete,” he said before disappearing into his guardhouse and reappearing with a clear plastic bag of perfectly white, glistening, glowing filets of fish. My favorite Gulf fish—Hogfish. I did the list of ingredients in my head—butter, olive oil, garlic, cold beer, and bread for sopping up the sauce. I already had them all so could start cooking lunch. No sooner had I popped the first beer when there was a tap on my front door. It was Abrahám again. “What about some lobster?” Stunned that I could have my favorite sea creatures for lunch on the same day, all I could manage was a faint “Claro que si!”
Into my second beer I heard another knock on the kitchen door. It was my lunch guest with another clear plastic bag. This one turned out to be a kilo of fresh blue crab meat, caught and picked that morning. With that, nothing for it but to open the wine. During the first glass the plan became clear: poach the fish and lobster (would they take the same time?) in the steam of simmering butter and olive oil. I did. Just before both turned opaque, I took them out, threw in a small handful of minced garlic, covered it, cooked it 3 minutes, turned off the heat, and put the lobster and Boquinete back in the pan. I covered them both in an inch of crab meat, blushing as I did so at the daring and greedy richness and excess of the dish. In a minute the crab was warmed through. When I took the top of the pan the perfume of fresh ocean animals, garlic, butter and olives whooshed up to my face and I had to hang onto the counter. Another glass of wine steadied me as I knew then that now, wearing the invisible armor of pleasure, I could face anything, even more buttered Boquinete. // Jeremiah Tower, Mexico
—What Did You Eat Today, Jeremiah Tower? is a weekly 2paragraphs Food & Wine feature.