The Fish Story

Salad Surprise Has Vegan Swearing Off Greens; Why It’s Healthy to Hate the Hell Out of Hurricanes

By Jay Mann | Sep 06, 2017

SALAD WITH A CROAK: During my kid years, I always worryingly wondered what my beloved grandma meant when she’d cough a bit and say, “I’ve got a frog in my throat.” I only recently realized she might have been eating a salad. That unequivocally needs some explaining – and a visit to the home of vegetarian Becky Garfinkel, 37, of Corona, Calif.

Becky is no longer her vegan self when it comes to salads, which she’ll now be shunning for all of eternity if not longer. Here’s why. Just last week, she was in the midst of carefreely dining on spring mix greens poured from a bag of Taylor Farms premade salad, purchased at her local Target. In a fork-beat, Becky’s lettuce-loving world wilted away.

There, among the health-nut greenery, was … a frog. I’m talking a real frog here, not some merchandising name given to a new strain of leafy green. What’s more, there was absolutely no mention of “frog” in the ingredients.

I always back up stories like this. So, please, Google “frog in salad” for many reads. Of course, I’m herein offering insights only a herpetologist, like myself, can conjure up.

“I’m halfway through my salad and as I’m going to stab another bit, I see (the frog) peeking out from under the salad,” Becky told “I jumped back. I screamed, ‘There’s a frog in my salad!’”

The tiny, tan-colored frog, which was duly photographed shortly after being found, was nestled within the greenery. It was curled in a damn-it’s-cold posture – and all but oozing hatred of the vinaigrette dressing smothering it. I’ve never seen such a pathetic-looking frog, with maybe the exception of uncooked frog legs.

Being me, I wondered if the forked-over frog was thinking, “Can things get any worse?” Well, had Becky been busily chatting instead of salad watching while forking away … Yes, froggy, things could have gotten way worse.

Unsure of what she might have already swallowed prior to her freaky find, Becky rushed to the commode to, let’s say, cleanse her system. She told Fox News she “completely freaked out” and upchucked – from being “so traumatized.”

Personally, I hate to throw up. But in such a case, I could see me merrily retching my guts out.

Becky didn’t mention whether she dared to look into the john, post-upchuck – you know, to see if, just maybe … Yuck.

It was what Becky did next that would warm even a cold-blooded heart. She rushed back to the dinner table and gently removed the non-ingredient frog, rinsing it off in the kitchen sink.

For a week now, reporters and TV show hosts have been all over Becky. Face it, there’s something very media-sexy in a salad-ified frog. I see it as remotely akin to the famed “Waiter, what’s this fly doing in my soup!?”

But Becky’s frog was far from doing the backstroke. It was barely hanging on, its tiny lungs just barely showing life. That’s when hubby dearest came to the rescue. Calling on years of training in resuscitating small, thermally shocked amphibians (not!), he literally did one-finger chest compressions on the stunned herp … and damned if it didn’t work!

“With his finger – I’m not kidding you – he barely pushes on the little frog and it breathes and turns around. I’m like ‘OK. We have to keep him,’” said Becky.

As we speak, the frog that came to dinner is loving life in the warm safety of a cozy aquarium in the Garfinkle home. The couple has named their new pet, rather predictably, Lucky.

But Lucky’s legacy has left a lingering aftereffect on Becky. She told ABC TV, “I have no desire to ever eat a salad again. I’m petrified of the thought of a salad.”

By the by, the Garfinkels rather angrily reached out to Target, where she had purchased the salad. In sympathy, the mega-company offered a whole $5 gift card. Yes, good for any salad.

Taylor Farms, the wholesaler of the greens, is launching an investigation.

Personally, I don’t see what’s such a big deal. All those leafy greens, growing in an organic outdoor agricultural manner, have to look mighty inviting to passing tree frogs. I’ll even suggest folks are overreacting to the odd occurrence. But I won’t overreact … short of never eating another salad for eternity and beyond.

MAKES ME NERVOUS: I’ve grown to despise hurricanes. OK, despise is a strong word – in case one happens to be reading this column. Let’s just say I’ve become chronically distrustful of those burly buggers. I’m simply no longer in the hurricane business.

For the longest time, I was a pom pom-shaking supporter of cyclonic stormage. Not only would I elatedly hawk tropical systems as they spun hither-and-yon, but I’d even egg them into intensifying. “Goooooooooo … Cat 5!”

In reality, I was itching to see what sort of surfing waves said storms might grant LBI. Things changed when once-hurricane-turned-Superstorm Sandy kicked down the doors of my home. She knocked the mick out of my hurricane hurrahing.

Whereas the Great March Storm of ’62 – and even the Hurricane of ’44 – hadn’t left so much as a mark upon my humble Ship Bottom abode, stinkin’ Sandy flooded my 1929-built house to the brink of tear-down. That little you-know-what also consumed what had been my favorite-ever Chevy pickup. Sure, Sandy hurt countless others, but, to be honest, when push comes to watery shove, it’s every homeowner for themselves, especially when first opening the front door and moaning a protracted  “Oh, s********t!”

Adding to my sudden hurricane hating is the modern pre-hit build-up. Nowadays, cyclones are placed under the prognostic microscope from birth onward. Through satellite images, countless storm analysts and – the worst build-up offender of all – social media, a storm hits home many times before it makes real-time landfall. The storm-a-comin’ stress fostered by the likes of The Weather Channel can alter daily peace of mind for many days, sometimes weeks – even with storms that never hit.

As we speak, Hurricane Irma is a perfect example of a droning buildup process. “While it’s still 10 days before she reaches any land masses, Irma could become the worst storm since the Stone Age,” offers one hypothetical TV channel after channel – many of them showing LBI as ground zero.

For me, this never-ending over-hype is a train wreck I can’t turn away from – or sidestep. Over the weekend, I was window-shopping tools and random slabs of wood at a big-box home improvement center. During my short stay, I saw three “Labor Day Sale!” gasoline-powered generators being purchased. Sure, the price was nice, but the gab accompanying the buys was focused on Irma. I know this since I brazenly asked the buyers why they were buying – pretending that I, also, was in the market for some Irma-preparatory equipment. Then, as I stood on line with my roll of Gorilla brand duct tape, everyone, including the cashier, was bandying about what they had personally heard about the storm. “I hear it’ll be the worst hurricane for us since the Stone Age.”

All that said, I’m admittedly a player in the hurricane hype-fest. But, in my case, it’s “Keep your friends close … and your hurricanes closer.” What’s more, I’ve assumed a “Whoa, Nellie!” posture when it comes to overreacting to what might be pounding its way up the mid-Atlantic pike. Too much worry, commencing way too early, can work against public safety. It makes folks think un-straight, never a good thing, especially with folks who are unpredictable even when thinking straight.

My devil’s advocate forte regarding ’canes hitting us is to highlight the law-of-averages halo we have around us. When I brazenly announce, “Stay calm. That Caribbean hurricane likely won’t hit us,” anyone disagreeing is giving me 50-to-1 odds … in my favor.

All I’m doing is trying to keep folks in a sound mindset when hurricaning, my expression for micro-monitoring modern hurricanes using modern surveillance means.

At the same time, I go to town when time comes to truly yell, “Nellie, bar the door! It’s a-comin’!”

MICRO UPDATES: By extreme request, I’m heretofore offering every inkling I hear about the Little Egg Inlet dredging project. This week, I’ll smally note that the Fish and Wildlife Service and the N.J. DEP are happeningly close to agreeing on a test dredge.

I know I mentioned this last week, but I had it reconfirmed, hearing the work has apparently gone out to bid. Hmmm … right?

Importantly, the dredge work had been legally announced and registered quite a while back. The comment period has passed. Yes, I’ll take partial blame for not alerting folks. That said, I only recently got reliable (updated) info on the project.

In recent weeks, the inlet dredging has become significant above and beyond merely mariners. Holgate proper’s beaches are looking downright anorectic. It would seem the nearest quick fixes are Long Beach Township paying the quarry piper for trucked-in sand, or the arrival of dredge material gleaned from an inlet test-dredge.

An LEI dredge would be a purely state and local project. Yes, Fish and Wildlife must OK it. Once the OK is given – and it might already have been – the funding must come from in-state sources. That funding is available, I’m told. All it takes by the local politicos is some whining, begging and gnashing of teeth.

Added info: The Army Corps is rather hungrily eyeing the vast cache of borrowable sand lying within the ocean shoals at the east end of Little Egg Inlet.

I’ll again note that those massive shoals, which are growing larger and larger as LBI replenishment sand migrates southward, can be seen as a renewable sand source for beach replenishment.

While shoal borrowing seems a workable concept, the Fish and Wildlife Service folks duly fret that the combined inlet dredging and the shoal sand-taking might expose nearby federally-owned Little Beach to enhanced erosion. Taking sides, I’ll suggest that Little Beach – not to mention south-end Holgate – is already in the throes of egregious erosion. Who’s to say dredging and sand harvesting might not work to slow that erosion? That thinking is far too cup-half-fullish for worrywarts.

Quick correction: The bidding for the LBI replenishing of Harvey Cedars, Surf City and Brant Beach is over Sept. 11, not Sept. 15, as I had written.

RUNDOWN: I gotta talk down to you this week, meaning the best fishing is downsized, via a very nice – and returning – kingfish bite. I got stellar kingfishing reports from surfcasters and, a bit oddly, boat anglers. Generally, fishing for kings is surf/bank-fishing oriented.

Walt P. and Don I. caught the boat kings, bayside, ICW, just north of Little Egg Inlet. They also saw some huge fluke being boat-caught nearby. Though perish the thought of keeping fluke by the time you read this. I’ll say again it was a remarkable fluke year for many. I have abundant photo proof of epic catches for many an angler.

Back to the kingfish bite, one surfcaster nailed nice kings off a mid-Island beach using “Bites” and “old bloodworms.”

The above surfcaster asked where the kingfish had gone between the earlier hot bite in June and now. They went partying, spawning in Barnegat Bay into the wee hours of August. They’re now moving out with vigor. And it seems to be a big move-out, possibly the biggest in decades.

Kingfish numbers are very much based on shrimping bycatch to our south. Millions are lost to those indiscriminate nets. But I’m recreationally prejudiced. I fully realize those commercial fishermen have mouths to feed and kids to clothe.

While kingfish of any size are delectable, try to keep only fish of a respectable size. As always, we anglers should do our parts in preserving such a desirable panfish species.

There are more tiny snappers than you can shake a light-action stick at. Personally, I see very little eating value in these paper-thin bluefish. And I always catch hell for saying that … so bring it on.

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