The director unwraps the fish. It rolls out on to the cutting board, a whole dead fish. Its dead eyes stare at me. I’m definitely getting my hands dirty today. Is it gutted? he asks. I poke at its belly. No, its not gutted. I have no idea how to gut a fish. The director says he thinks you cut open its belly and pull out the crap. Yuck.
I’ve frozen my ass off twice on location for films, once dressed in a power suit laying on the concrete outside the convention center in November and once in a flimsy cotton dress on a hill in July at midnight. Today, I get to gut fish.
He hands me the special knife used in the other meal prep shots and I center the fish on the board. He says action and I cut. More like I begin sawing and it goes well until I hit the bone near the head. The knife is not particularly sharp and the fish bone is darn hard. Its like beef bone. I gingerly scrap the entrails out using the knife. My character would probably stick her hand in there and yank. I can’t quite bring myself to do that. So much for throwing myself into my craft. Next up is cleaving the head off. I’m much better at that. Upon the word action, I give a good whack which only sinks into the flesh. I saw and it works, the head separates with only minimal effort. So does the tail. Hacking at fish is much more my style.
Next up, the trout, which is already gutted. Yay! The director then dumps the smelt on the cutting board. To our surprise, smelt are soft and not easily gutted. They fall apart as I handle them. We decide to line them up for one shot only. Out come the squid. What am I supposed to do with them? The director says cut off their heads. I’m not totally sure where the head is at but I figure its the non tentacle end. A quick easy chop.
We move on to Brussel sprouts and fennel. What a relief. The sprouts are still attached to their branch. My cutting method sends them flying across the board. You need to watch out when I’m in the kitchen with a knife. You may take a Brussel sprout to the head.
I throw some dough around in flour for the rolls which thoroughly powders my black Victorian costume.
I attempt to wipe it off but I only spread it around. Good thing we don’t need body shots of me today because the black costume now smells like fish with flour spewed down the skirt.
It takes a shower at the gym 3 hours later to finally get the fish smell off my hands. And I will never ever buy a whole fish. I want them ready to go in the oven, no guts, no scales, no skin.