Sport 17: Spring 1996
The Food Dream
The Food Dream
I had a big pile of paua. I had to eat them, there was nothing else. I was on a steep stony beach, it was nightfall, calm and misty. I lit a small fire; that was easy. The paua were still alive in their shells sucking onto each other like soft magnets. I prised one off the pile and stuck my thumb under the oozing black flesh, between it and the shell. I could feel the muscle tense and shudder. I pushed hard and tried to flick the animal out of its shell with my thumb but the paua stuck fast. I tried again with all four fingers digging under the wet rubber meat but it was too slippery and too strong. I threw all the paua into the fire with their shells still attached. As they cooked they screamed like tortured babies.page 109
We stayed in a tiny wooden bach perched on the edge of the wild beach. There was no sand, only stones and rocks and wind. The sea was deep and treacherous, the noise of the waves stirring the stones continuous and deafening. We balanced on the steep beach and fished with enormous surf-casting fishing rods. Huge waves loomed over us then collapsed into the stones inches from our feet. The wind shaved the top of the waves off then threw the stubble back into our faces a thick stinging salt mist. I loved the beach and its uncompromising wildness, but I struggled with the size of my fishing rod. One day I caught a skate (fig.2). It glided through the surf like a stealth bomber.
‘Oh no a stingray!’ I yelled, ‘How do I kill it?’
‘Like any other fish,’ he said and belted in its head with a large round rock. He looked at me with contempt and cut up the winged fish for bait. Skates are flattened relatives of sharks. They have long tails studded with thorns and equipped with electric organs, the fourvolt impulses of which are thought to play a part in courtship.