Tilapia Rossa

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Happiness is a state of mind, and its approach on cats paws is hardly noticed. To awake to the sounds of birds chirping, and the sun flowing into the room through the window, sunlight spilling on to the table, catching bits and pieces of the immediate environment… when the heart is calm… How simple it is. How difficult to describe.

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On an evening, a few days ago, after Janne returned from work, after exchanging stories of our separate days… music in the dining room… she’d brought some groceries with her. Are you hungry, she asked, taking a sip of the red wine we had bought earlier, two for the price of one. Not hungry, I said… but I could enjoy a bite to eat. It’s been so long since I’ve been hungry. It’s enough to have appetite these days.

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And then I saw the fish. Two reddish fish, complete. With heads and tails, on the cutting board. Patiently, she removed the last of the scales on the fish, and then covered them with flour. There was a sense of the complete, looking at the image of the fishes. Not slices… not pieces, meant to be objects of food… but the actual creature we were about to eat. The fire warmed the kitchen. The corn oil heating up in the pan. The thoughts that had saddened me in past weeks had slipped out the door… and the beauty of the neighborhood, the calm which enveloped me, and Janne’s decision to go back to painting after years of being ‘just too busy’ filled our little world with happiness.

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My senses were wide awake. The feeling was that of being surrounded by good. Our celebration wasn’t noisy. No fireworks, no shouts… Just the smells of the kitchen, the soft purr of the potatoes boiling in the background, and the fish sizzling in the pan… sweet music coming from the speakers in the corner of the dining room and an awareness of the whole. That all encompassing feeling of completeness is peace. And peace is one of the major ingredients of happiness.

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It was the first time for both of us that we ate that particular fish. It’s called Admonit in Hebrew, Tilapia Rossa in English. The taste was an unqualified delight. When I first looked at all the food on my plate, I didn’t think I could finish it. It seemed half of it would be fine for me. But I ate it all… the fish, potatoes and yams. The experience was one of sensitivity, lightness and satisfaction, and … a harmony of the senses, including love and friendship. The fish’s skin was tastily devoured by Charley the cat.

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To my friends and readers, my best wishes for a happy weekend. May we enjoy all our five senses, with peace in our hearts. The days go by… whether appreciated or not. How blessed it is to enjoy an hour.

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109 responses to “Tilapia Rossa

  1. Beautiful photography, Shimon, and lovely to read how your happiness arose from time and food shared with others. Gentle peace and continued blessings.

  2. Looks like a fantastic meal with a great friend. Nothing like home cooked.
    Another poignant post.

  3. This is a lovely post, Shimon. I thought the fish was red mullet. Nothing like home-cooking to lift the spirits. Have a wonderful weekend, you two!

    • You’re probably right, Fatima. That’s one of the problems of writing in a foreign language. When I don’t know a word I look it up in the dictionary or ask friends, and very often I come up with the wrong word. Thanks for helping out here, and for your good wishes.

  4. Wonderful post Shimon. It’s the simple things that mean the most.

  5. Thank you, Shimon, and may you have a happy weekend, too. Filled with pleasure and peace. Shalom.

  6. Wonderful post dear Shimon, seems it was a delicious dinner. Wonderful photographs too, as if I could jump into the pictures for to eat 🙂 Thank you, Thank you, have a nice weekend, love, nia

    • I wish you had been with us, Nia. It was really fine. Hope all is well with you and yours. Best wishes to you too.

      • …..” when the heart is calm… How simple it is. How difficult to describe…..”

        I read once again and how beautifully you express and write dear Shimon, I love to read you, your meaningful touches in this language… Thank you, be sure when I visit your blog, I feel myself as if I am there… One day, one day I wish to visit you in your country too. Blessing and Happiness, love, nia

  7. The peacefulness and happiness flows through your photos to me. And so true that each day passes whether we appreciate them or not…would that we could remember to just appreciate them, and I think happiness would then be more prominent in our lives.

  8. Such a beautiful post, Shimon…a comforting embrace…and a gentle challenge for our lives…for mine. Thank you for sharing your mindfulness…your own peace, with us.

    • It is always a pleasure to share with you Scott, going both ways. You know, when we’re miserable it’s our nature to cry out loud. And when we’re happy, we smile… there doesn’t have to be a sound. So sometimes, people miss all the happiness going around… just don’t notice it.

  9. two things:

    1. thanks for keeping us a little grounded by reminding us what’s most important. sharing meals with good people. i’ve been immersing myself in a lot of online publishing and other business and have kind of ignored a few people lately, so this is a reminder of that.

    2. is that a pineapple sitting in water? if not, what is it? and is there a purpose other than decoration? does it give fragrance to the room?

    • You’re right, Rich. It’s the crown of the pineapple. And Janne has put them in water before, and the roots start growing, and you can have yourself a new pineapple tree. Not to speak of the fact that it looks gorgeous with the sun falling on it. No fragrance though.

      I know you’ve been occupied lately with publishing, and so I’ve been less involved. But I do check up now and then, and am always wishing you the best of luck.

  10. This post is a blessing post…I will be more aware of the little things as I go forward in my day, because of you. The feast and the friendship captured in the single photograph easily said it all. With gratitude,

  11. Beautifully said about happiness, Mr. Shimon! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feast, smile, sunshine… with us 🙂

  12. Happiness appear when we least expect it and comes in such strange disguises. 🙂

  13. Always small things make big differences… the flower broderies on the plate… wooden table, remembering the warmth of Nature… candle holder from memories of old wine bottles… and a future lovely pinaple plant which will grow somewhere on the curt yard… Yes, a serene lovely week end to you and Janne too Shimon!
    PS. Happiness is just around the corner, lets open up the door and let her come in… Claudine

  14. Great post Shimon… exudes a simple, happy, peace… contentment… helps to awaken and fill my own heart… thank you for sharing.

  15. “How blessed it is to enjoy an hour.”

    This was such a lovely post. The photos were such a perfect accompaniment to your gentle description of a lovely meal, and the music, and enjoying the company of your friend … and taking the time to notice how the light lay across the table, capturing the beauty of it all. Thank you for the good wishes, and I am sending some back to you, as well. Blessings.

    • And thank you for your good wishes too, N. And for your latest blog post, which I enjoyed very much. As I said in a reply to an earlier comment, when we cry, we make a lot of noise. When we’re happy, we just smile. Sometimes happiness isn’t noticed that much.

  16. Very interesting! Great points! I enjoyed reading this!

  17. A kind of peace we all know and love. And appreciation for all that comes with it. What is the stuff? Objects green (cups?) with white something in them on the table across and in front of Janne? Happy that you’re taking it all in stride Shimon. I still look forward to your move with curiosity.

    • Yes, peace is so good, Bob. And I guess it was that extra challenge of being out of my home for a while that made me re-examine life in general. Those ‘green cups’ you mention are the bottoms of bottles of wine. And Janne puts candles in them, and lights them in the evening when we dine, and so the old bottles of wine contribute to our evening even as we’re drinking from new bottles. Have no doubt, you will get pictures and descriptions when I finally move into my new home… if I live that long (smile).

  18. Ah! the simple pleasures of life. Have a good weekend.

  19. A delightful post. How true it is that we need simply to settle and be aware of the beautiful and gentle blessings all round us. Contentment is a very great component of happiness.

    • One of our biggest problems, Gill, is that when we’re doing the same thing every day… and living in the same place, we tend to take things for granted. This experience of mine… though I do complain at times, has opened my eyes to a lot of the little things in life. Thanks for the comment.

  20. Well….reading this left me feeling chilled and happy too, and very peaceful. What a stunning little post. I have to agree, happiness can sneak up on you on cat’s paws without you barely noticing it, and it’s usually while enjoying simple and ordinary things with family friends or animals. I wish you many more beautiful hours, I think you are going to miss Janne when you move to your new home.xxxx

    • I have a feeling that what chilled you might have been the focus on eating another living creature, Dina. And you know, though a carnivore all my life, as I grow older, I find that I’m getting to be more and more of a vegetarian… almost against my will. Still, it seems to me a part of nature for some of us beasts to eat others… and life keeps going on… And you’re right about Janne. I have known her for about 20 years, but have gotten to know her differently in the last month. And I have no doubt that I’ll be seeing her more frequently in the future… Thanks for the comment. xxx

      • Ahhhh….I think you are getting to know me far to well. When I said chilled I did mean relaxed, but maybe beneath that the fish did jump out at me. That said, I have no problem with what people choose to eat as long as there is no cruelty involved and sadly we both know that there often is.
        And I’m rather happy to hear that you are becoming an unwilling veggie! Lol
        A quick story for you. I never imposed my veggie beliefs on daughter when she was growing up as I firmly believe that everyone must find a path they are comfortable with……one day I got a call from her school, she had announced she was now a “vegarton” and could no longer eat meat.Turns out she had a bad experience with a sausage or something and was forced to eat veggie at school dinners for a few months! Eventually…the vegarton resumed eating chicken…..
        I accept nature for what it is….everything has to eat something to survive, but we humans have a choice and while we do I can eat like a princess without eating meat.
        I do think I’d enjoy sitting with you and Janne….fish and all!xxx

        • What interests me most about this, is my little misunderstanding. I am often fascinated by the infinite subtlety of language. And because I’m not a native English speaker… even though I believe I’ve learned the language well… there is always something that escapes me. I’d heard that people use the word chill to describe relaxation. But I’ve never encountered it till now in actual conversation. And when I read your words, I imagined a slight shiver… something uncomfortable… even though the continuation was quite positive. Such are the challenges of having the audacity to write in a foreign language.

          The question of meat is a very separate issue. It’s taken me a bit by surprise. I would never have imagined that I would choose to go in that direction… even though I did have a short period, about forty years ago, when I chose not to eat meat. In my mind, it always seemed quite natural. We have the teeth for it… we have the digestive system for it. I have a great identification with cats. And yet, in recent years, I just don’t seem to have the appetite for it. It seems odd to me. But I put a lot of faith in intuition. I like to be on friendly relations with my body. Thank you for your explanation and the story of your daughter. It is always such a pleasure for me to exchange thoughts with you. xxx

          • I have no doubt in my mind that you know that you write English, and probably speak it better than most of the western world. You certainly have better English than me!!! So …no false modesty there!

            Now …on being a carnivore, yes we have the teeth for that, and the digestive system, but we also have the teeth of omnivores, us humans have always had the capacity to adapt and evolve…..opportunists we are…and will always be….so therein lies the choice in terms of what we can eat, when such choices are available…..the choice is endless.xxx

            • I do agree with you, philosophically. It seems to me that choice is the most elegant and glorious characteristic of the human being. And it exists in all aspects of human life. I’m not sure about the eating of meat… but I am about the choice. I so enjoy hearing your thoughts, Dina. xxxx

  21. Ahaaa such serendipty across the miles. Last night, frustrated after an article on “perfect pitch” simply got out of hand and devoured a whole day while I pored over the technicalities of pitch frequencies. A topic about which I knew nil.

    I finally ended up with a YouTube clip of an Indian trio performing a traditional raga … a scale which includes notes never used in Western music. This raga had effectively detroyed the premise of my article. It was clear to me that “perfect pitch” was elusive. I was tired and cranky.

    Then the exotic music somehow crept into my muddled brain, calming and soothing it with its unfamiliar tonalities. I lay back and succumbed to it, reaching for a bar of raspberry chocolate. The cat strolled over and settled under my armpit. And the feeling of peace and joy and gratefulness … for being alive, for being aware … for the music and the purr of the little creature next to me … settled over me like a warm and comforting blanket.

    Yes yes Shimon … it is the little things. The “moments” which my Mom made me so aware of as a child. The gentle simple things.
    This is why we live.

    Love and Aloha … and Shalom

    • Your comment made my day, Nikki… it added harmony and resonance to what I had written, and just lifted me off the ground, and into the wide blue heaven. Thank you so much, and peace and love to you too… and let me teach you the Hebrew word for love. It’s ahavah… and it’s a truly magical word in our language.

  22. Shimon, simple but hard to describe, yes. I fully understand this. Yes peace IS a major ingredient of happiness.

    Shimon, I absolutely love this post. I relate to it fully – just opening your eyes on that scene invokes happiness, it does. Then the shopping, the red wine, the togetherness, excess of food, giving the skin to your happy cat. A glorious, simple post.

    • Thank you so much, Noeleen… I know we share a lot of thoughts from time to time… but how good it is to share some happiness. I wish you a beautiful week.

  23. I believe I enjoyed the dinner about as much as you did. So well described. I could feel the warmth, the smell of frying fish, the easy friendship. Yes, those moments are ones to cherish. You are fortunate indeed to have a friend like Janne. I loved this post. 🙂

    • So glad you enjoyed this right along with me, George. I know I don’t have to tell you what a strange life this is. I’ve known Janne for some 20 years… but then she took me in when I was homeless for a while (still am), and I learned to appreciate sides of her that I hadn’t even seen before…

  24. couldn’t agree more. some kind of feelings cannot be described in a million years, they are just felt. Have a good weekend. 🙂

  25. Good morning Shimon. This is such a beautiful post, celebrating the exquisite beauty of the simple joys in life.
    Your first para and image, describe so well a feeling that is almost indescribable, but when it is with us, is one of such intense beauty and peace.
    Thank you:)

    • Thank you very much Janet. I know we have a very similar outlook on life… and so it’s always a special pleasure to share with you. My very best wishes to you for a happy and beautiful week ahead… with a little sunshine too. I imagine you’re seeing a lot of clouds these days…

  26. I love how you savor life, and how you describe contentment. Much of what you write reminds me of St. Paul’s remark, that godliness with contentment is great gain.

    • Not being a Christian, I’ve missed some of the wisdom and the stories of these saints. I barely know anything of St. Paul. But I know that religious men of all religions recognize similar things in this world… and many relate to them in a similar way. Thank you so much for sharing this with me, Rick.

  27. Beautifully written and imaged, Shimon.

  28. I am so happy for you.

    I have seen Tilapia Rossa in fish shops, as yet I have not tried it. The meal looked fit for kings and queens; I am glad you were the king at that table.

    🙂

  29. Amazing and Thank you so much for sharing

  30. You write from the heart of what sounds like a very content man..blessings to you sir..and yours..

  31. I love the sense of peace that I felt while reading this. And the photos! They’re fantastic. Thankyou for sharing this experience 🙂

    • You know, Jess. I’m an old man, and have lived in the same place for many years, and done pretty much the same things every day in the last couple of years. And when we do that, we start taking a lot of things for granted. I was pretty miserable about moving, at the start. But it has turned out to be a very educational experience.

      • I am so, so glad you have been able to find the silver lining to it. I really am. I understand the attachment to a place – I didn’t move out of my family home until I was 21, and it was a difficult decision to make, but I knew it was time. I’m a rather sentimental person, and I found myself getting sad about all kinds of things, but I found a cheap flat in the next town and I moved there. I’ve moved quite a few times since then, and each time I’ve learned something new from it. I hope you find (more) blessings in your relocation 🙂

  32. Yeah how simple it is and so difficult to describe – maybe we could be better appreciate these moments and actually be more happy or feel more happiness… 🙂 .

  33. Absolutely lovely photographs – I wish I had your simplicity of approach, your honesty, Shimon. They are also a great celebration as well as a record of one.

  34. A Lovely post Shimon. W all need to make time for these moments to happen. I’m pretty sure I’d have finished every last morsel of this wonderful meal also Shimon!

  35. I still love your photos with the sunlight and shadows and have no idea if there’s a name for this technique, Shimon! If so, you’ll have to let me know. I’m drawn to citrus colors in general, so I would say those are still some of my favorites. I’m glad you had a lovely evening and in my former life, I think that those were the best of times: a simple meal with a good friend. I’ll take your advice to heart, even if rather lacking in 1 of the 5 senses. :/
    Leah xx

    • It’s really not a special photo technique, Leah. It’s just the use of light to add a little drama to the picture. That’s one of the reasons we photographers work with artificial lighting… in order to direct the light, and let shadows fall where they too will tell a story. But in this case, I had it as a gift, straight through the window without working at it. And when it comes to the five sense… that is a message for the young and healthy among us. Many of us are limited in some way, especially as we grow older. And then, we want to make use of what we have… sometimes to overcome the difficulties caused by what we don’t have, or problems we have. I have a very strong impression that you are a woman who won’t quit. That you want to make the most of life. Try to enjoy what you can. Despite the handicap, you have a good head on your shoulders. And I believe that eventually you will find much to focus on aside from your ongoing fight with infirmity.

      • Well said, Shimon. I am very tough and quite the fighter, but fighting my own body is the hardest I find as you have no control at all.

        I like the explanation about the use of light. I had to take a drawing class once and could not understand how to create shadows. The teacher wasn’t the best and just kept saying to imagine where the light was hitting everything and she might as well have been speaking Greek. I think it takes the eye of an artist to figure that one out. Perhaps that’s why I’m drawn to those photos and I can see them fairly well on my blown-up laptop, but they would be an utter mess printed out. So, I’m grateful for the vision I still have at this time (and modern technology).
        xx

  36. The simple things in life are always the most enjoyable – another heart warming post Shimon: thank you.

    David.

  37. From Edward Fitzgerald’s ‘The Rubiayat of Omar Khayyam’, comes this idea……
    ‘A jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and Thou……
    Beside me singing in the wilderness…..
    O, Wilderness is paradise enow (enough).

    I think we all much prefer, to enjoy simple pleasures with someone,

  38. Peace, joy and yet more deliciousness to you, too, Shimon! I can understand perfectly why eating the whole fish was irresistible.

    • Thank you very much Kathryn, and my same wishes to you… though I know from your blog that you are a person who seaks out the good and the enjoyable, and so, we are colleagues in the appreciation of the good life.

  39. Pingback: Permission Granted | Invisible Shadow

  40. I think you summed up the feeling masterfully in that first paragraph – it IS hard to describe this type of happiness, yet you forged ahead and did it, seemingly without effort. Thank you for spreading the happiness across the world, Shimon!

    • Ah, if only I could, bluebrightly… but as we know, the secret to happiness is choice. We have to make the choice to look for the good, to appreciate what we have. Your beautiful photography is a great example of that, which is why I enjoy it so much. I always know that when I study your pictures, I’ll find subjects to enjoy and celebrate. Thank you for your comment.

      • You are TOO kind! And let’s say that if people make the choice to appreciate what’s in front of them, to find happiness there instead of a complaint, and if the object of contemplation is writing and images like yours, then you are engaged in a duet with the person who chooses happiness, allowing them to find it easily.

  41. What a delicious looking meal, and so expertly and lovingly prepared. 🙂
    I’ve just started a new blog. Here’s the link:
    http://anotherday2paradise.wordpress.com/

  42. “Happiness is a state of mind” How deeply profound. I enjoyed seeing the fish in different states. In the end, I was really hungry! Kind Regards Shimon.

  43. Thanks for your kind comments Shimon – this post is a treasure.

  44. Lovely evocation of good spirits and good companionship and peacefulness – what more can one want?

    • Thank you, Tish. For me, the most important lesson I’ve been learning in my recent circumstances, is that even though I was living a very good life, and prefered that nothing would change, I listened to the advice of my friends… and life has gotten still better.

  45. This is a beautifully written post, harkening to the joys of the simple things in life – “being surrounded by the good.” Thank you for sharing this part of your life.

  46. The only time I tasted Tilapia, was in a restaurant in Rio, and it remains one of our most memorable meals ever! But it doesn’t come close to your description of your beautiful evening with your lovely wife…..you excel in evocative writing Shimon! 🙂

    • Thank you very much for your kind words, Madhu. It makes me happy to know that you have experienced a similar meal to this one that I’ve described. Best wishes to you, and may you have a beautiful day.

  47. The fis!h should be painted before being eaten!But you prefer a photograph?

    • Yes, a painting would be good too. The advantage of a photograph is that it takes less time, and one gets to the fish faster. Thank you for your comment, Mari

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