PHOTO: JELLY FISH
During our sailing years, we sometimes sailed for long periods of time through seas of jelly fish. They were the little ones, the largest being maybe five inches across–clear and round. They looked so tightly plump, but still flexible–maybe with a texture like a child’s soft rubber ball. I would stare at them and have fantasies about what they would taste like if eaten. I imagined them being crisp, crunchy but slightly chewy, maybe like jello, but with a little more resistance and crunch, and more exciting to sink my teeth into. They would definitely not taste like jello. I could see this new food in a desert dish, perfectly clear and cold, with some marvelously illusive flavor like nothing I had ever tasted, but utterly delicious and magical in my mouth.
Sometimes when I ate I would savor the flavor of what I was eating and wonder if some essence of it would be what jelly fish tasted like. Could it be a little like basil? Or maybe cinnamon? Could it be like biting into a grape? It was a tantalizing pursuit into the gustatory unknown.
Once I was walking along a sandy beach. I came to a place where some big jelly fish were washed up on the sand. They were the kind that were sometimes a foot across, with long tentacles and rust colored banners hanging beneath. However, this jellyfish was in pieces, perhaps cut up by a boat propeller. The pieces looked just as fat and bouncy as did a whole one of the kind we sometimes sailed through. I picked up a piece and washed it off in the surf. There it lay in the palm of my hand, just as I had imagined it lying in a desert dish. I knew this kind of jelly fish had stinging tentacles, but this piece had no tentacles. I could not help myself; I took a bite, anticipating the exquisite texture, the other-worldly flavor.
I spit it out. It was nothing but salt water.