At 2 O’clock, as the clouds did not go away but stopped emptying for a while, we left the house on the known trail From Jaffa to Tel Aviv.
We crossed directly to the sea and turned towards the port.
We went down from the muddy slope of the hill overlooking the port onto the old British deck that is rusting & crumbling day by day, storm by storm.
And just as we stood there, admiring the roaring sea- a huge wave came from the belly of the storm.
These are the winter storms in the sea of Jaffa.
Ask the meteorologists and the fishermen. It was a big wave.
At least 3 meters. The wave did not break on us as the Britons built their sea wall on the rocks of Jaffa that forms 3-4 meters deep coves that hold some tranquility even in stormy days and the fish who lives in the sea of Jaffa know this place and takes refuge.
We know each other- I snorkel there every now and then. Exactly there, on the land side of the sea wall, as it was impossible to walk on the sea side, came the big wave and riding on its head was a giant Grouper that landed just in front of our feet. And it was impossible to know if the fish came from the watery sky or from the foam of the sea.
It is not a fish you see every day.
Maybe because the winters here are not that stormy and not every day I take a walk from Jaffa to Tel Aviv and seldom a little whale charge me from the sky although if I look into the old stories of the city I shouldn’t be surprised.
“what is it?” asked Dorit
“800 New Israeli Shekels.”
“White Grouper” I said, looking into the fish’s blue eyes, at the red oxidizes gills.
“At list 100 Shekels per Kilo in the Season and sometimes 130-140 shekels when you can not fish them, and this is a remarkable beast”
I lifted it from the gills. “At least 8 Kilograms. Call Radi.”
“We don’t go To Tel Aviv?”
“Tel Aviv will have to wait. We are headed for a feast.”
“White Grouper” I hugged the fish that smelled waves, seas, storms and old British deck on the shores of old Jaffa.
“Have you called Radi?”
Radi called us before we left for our walk to ask where one eats fish in Jaffa.
We caught him on the entrance to a fish restaurants.
“Do you remember the story about the hungry soldier who taught the old lady how to make a wonderful soup from a stone?”
“Yes” sighed Radi and I could hear that he remembers who is playing the soldier with the stone and who shall provide the rest of the meal.
” bottles of wine, white & red, Humus and Masabha from Abu Marwan and come in.”
When we where back in the house it was Chips the house cat that took Academical interest and inquisitive approach in the Grouper who dismissed him with dignity.
I fought with the fish. It resisted. I butchered it with a knife and a hummer, floured it, heated the olive oil and the butter in the wok, fried the steaks as the huge head looking at me gravely . Soul and body.
I chopped the ginger and added generously. Black pepper, Salt, Chilly pepper that dries in the house for months waiting for the right fish and asked Rady for the White wine.
“Isn’t it to good for cooking?”
I didn’t answer. Radi is a professor of History. with those one should speak after the end of history, When it is on the make –
they are useless. They lack perspective.
I pored two glasses. One for me, one for the Fish.
And afterwards, When the clouds resumed their journey with the South Westerly wind and dropped heavy rains on Jaffa, Giant fish falling everywhere, We set at the table, drank the rest of the wine, and opened the red wine.
Just in case.
And then we ate what the neighbors brought us. Because the sea is our neighbor and all his creatures are welcomed in our house.