Who wants to be smart? To have all the knowledge in the world? Who doesn’t! Isn’t that why we go to school and spend years hitting the books? What if there was a way to gain all the knowledge in the world instantaneously? Well, according to an old Irish legend, there is! All you have to do is to eat a piece of salmon, even a tiny piece. Oh, don’t rush to your nearest store! It’s not any salmon; it’s a very special salmon, The Salmon of Wisdom.
Seven years Finneces had been on the Boyne, watching the salmon of Fec’s Pool; for it had been prophesied of him that he would eat the salmon of Fee, after which nothing would remain unknown to him. The salmon was found, and Demne was then ordered to cook it; and the poet told him not to eat anything of the salmon. The youth brought him the salmon after cooking it. “Hast thou eaten any of the salmon, my lad?” said the poet.
“No,” said the youth, “but I burned my thumb, and put it into my mouth afterwards.”
“What is thy name, my lad?” said he.
“Demne,” said the youth. “Finn is thy name, my lad,” said he; “and to thee was the salmon given to be eaten, and indeed thou art the Finn.” Thereupon the youth ate the salmon. It is that which gave the knowledge to Finn, so that, whenever he put his thumb into his mouth and sang through teinm laida, then whatever he had been ignorant of would be revealed to him.
He learnt the three things that constitute a poet: teinm laida, imbas forosna, and dichetul dichennaib (a magic formula, illuminating inspiration,and magic gifts). . It is then Finn made this lay to prove his poetry:
May-day, season surpassing! Splendid is color then. Blackbirds sing a full lay, if there be a slender shaft of day.
The dust-colored cuckoo calls aloud: Welcome, splendid summer! The bitterness of bad weather is past, the boughs of the wood are a thicket.
Summer cuts the river down, the swift herd of horses seeks the pool, the long hair of the heather is outspread, the soft white bog-down grows.
Panic startles the heart of the deer, the smooth sea runs apace-season when ocean sinks asleep-blossom covers the world.
Bees with puny strength carry a goodly burden, the harvest of blossoms; up the mountain-side kine take with them mud, the ant makes a rich meal.
The harp of the forest sounds music, the sail gathers-perfect peace. Color has settled on every height, haze on the lake of full waters.
The corncrake, a strenuous bard, discourses; the lofty virgin waterfall sings a welcome to the warm pool; the talk of the rushes is come.
Light swallows dart aloft, loud melody reaches round the hill, the soft rich mast buds, the stuttering quagmire rehearses.
The peat-bog is as the raven’s coat, the loud cuckoo bids welcome, the speckled fish leaps, strong is the bound of the swift warrior.
Man flourishes, the maiden buds in her fair strong pride; perfect each forest from top to ground, perfect each great stately plain.
Delightful is the season’s splendor, rough winter has gone, white is every fruitful wood, a joyous peace in summer.
A flock of birds settles in the midst of meadows; the green field rustles, wherein is a brawling white stream.
A wild longing is on you to race horses, the ranked host is ranged around:
A bright shaft has been shot into the land, so that the water-flag is gold beneath it.
A timorous tiny persistent little fellow sings at the top of his voice, the lark sings clear tidings: surpassing May-day of delicate colors!
Detail from the “Big Fish” (or “Salmon of Knowledge”) statue in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Its “scales” are made up of many enameled sections with images ranging from buildings, through to old newspaper cuttings to modern-day pictures by local schoolchildren (photo credit Wikipedia).
Apparently, the trust in Wise Salmon imparting knowledge still runs deep; the second largest Institute of Technology in Ireland, ITSligo, proudly carries The Big Fish as a part of its logo. I am only wondering if there is any connection between King Solomon the Wise to whom all the knowledge in the world was granted per request, on the spot, and the Salmon of Wisdom. Is it a coincidence that in Hebrew Salmon is called Salomon?
Well, there is no harm in trying, is there? Let’s take a salmon filet, an avocado, and some garlic. And let’s cut the filet into strips, about 1 inch (2/5 cm) wide. Let the avocado and garlic “talk among themselves,” as Joan Rivers used to say.
This is a fast and easy recipe. The idea is to get smart, not to spend your time cooking! Just get some corn meal, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and allspice.
Mix corn meal with salt, pepper, and allspice, and dredge salmon strips through it. Meanwhile, preheat a slightly misted with oil frying pan or griddle. Fry skin side down for 2 – 3 minutes, flip and sprinkle with lemon juice. Fry on the other side for 2 – 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to blot out excess oil.
Meanwhile, peel avocado and discard the pit. Smash avocado with a fork, leaving it chunky. Mince a couple of garlic cloves into it, as many as you like. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper, and Thai basil to taste. If you can’t get Thai, regular basil will do. Save some basil for garnishing.
Plate your salmon strips with guacamole on the side and sprinkle remaining basil over the fish. Now take a bite – do you feel smarter already? Of course you do; you just learned a delicious new recipe!
- 1 lb salmon filet, skin on
- 1 Haas avocado
- 2 – 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup finely ground corn meal
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 cup fresh Thai basil, chopped (may be replaced with regular basil) and more to garnish
- Salt, pepper, lemon juice to taste
- Cut salmon across into 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide strips.
- Combine corn meal with allspice, salt and pepper.
- Preheat lightly misted with oil frying pan or griddle.
- Dredge salmon strips through corn meal. Make sure they are well coated.
- Fry skin down for 2 – 3 minutes, turn, sprinkle with lemon, fry on the other side 2 – 3 minutes.
- Remove to plate lined with paper towels to blot out excess oil. Put aside.
- Peel avocado, discard pit. Smash with fork to chunky consistency.
- Add minced garlic, basil, lemon juice salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve salmon strips hot, warm, or cold, with guacamole on the side.