The first time I splurged an inadvisable amount of my paycheck towards food was for jamon Iberico, the Spanish cured ham that tastes as if a pig, a sack of hazelnuts, and a bathtub of full-cream butter were compressed and sliced into paper-thin sheets of meat and fat. I spent $30 for like six slices back in 2001. I did not care. It was a high never before achieved in my brain.
To this day, there are a handful of foods I’ll spend a stupid amount of money in exchange for a few minutes of its pleasure. All revolve around fatty pieces of animal meat: Jamon Iberico, Miyazaki A5 beef, smoked duck breast, Scottish salmon. My latest indulgence is gourmet jarred and canned tuna, the ones even too expensive for Whole Foods.
Here’s a sentence that’ll make your blood boil: I was vacaying in Napa this spring and decided to blow $15 on a can of tuna and brag about it on Instagram. Proof:
Lord have mercy. This was one of the most unbelievable cooked fishes I’ve ever tasted. It’s as if sashimi-grade otoro was poached in butter and soaked in olive oil pressed by Javier Bardem. The meat doesn’t so much flakes off; it disengages and collapses.
Bonito del norte, albacore caught from Northern Spain, should be your gateway fancy-pants tuna. But top-level tuna contains the word “ventresca” somewhere on the label. It’s the belly cut of the tuna, and it glides across the palate like velvet. How does one eat it? Perhaps mixed with mayo and pickles and slathered between whole-wheat bread? Leave my website and never return.
You eat fancy tuna from the can with a fork in one hand and a hunk of crusty bread in the other, full stop. You do not sully it in any way. You eat this, one bite at a time, with eye closed and light moans. When you’re done you’ll be left with some olive oil. You dare not dispose this—that’s where the bread comes in handy.
Got a spare $15 lying around and want to feel like the King of Spain? This is the fancy tuna to get. I’ve not tasted any better.