The young scientist submits many an unlikely report. To wit: "Bees' guts come out when they sting." And: "Men get hit by lightning more often than women." And: "A rabbit's teeth never stop growing."
Most of which the distracted mother files under "hmm, mmm."
The young scientist summons evidence: the online photo album, the online encyclopedia entry, the online wilderness documentary. Proving, to the surprise of the distracted mother, that the splotchy white whale with the single, straight, spiral-twisted horn does indeed glide the glacial waters. Narwhal, unicorn of the deep, has this over the unicorn of the field: It's real.
The scientist savors this moment. "You never believe me," he asserts. "But I'm always right."
He further defends his claim by calling up an animated short in which the smiling, single-horned narwhal dances to a jaunty tune that attempts to rhyme "ocean," "commotion" and "awesome." "Narwhal, narwhal," it boasts, "inventor of the shish kebab."
Which gets the attention of the distracted. Frankly, the culinary habits of the narwhal are hard to pin down, given that the whale lives in ice pack and tends to dine at a depth of 4,000 feet, in darkness. No one has ever seen the narwhal prepare lunch. So the record is unclear on whether the whale kebabs its prey.
Still, it seems fitting to credit the tusked whale with the ingenious idea of skewering fish. Just as it seems fitting to credit the niceties of marinating, browning and serving over crispy noodles to the distracted mom. She's the one who routinely tries to rhyme "just try some" with "awesome."
Leah Eskin is a Tribune special contributor.
Prep: 15 minutes
Marinate: 1 hour
Cook: 10 minutes
Makes: 6 servings
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 pounds swordfish, cut into 1-inch cubes
30 cherry or grape tomatoes
6 green onions, cut into 1-inch lengths
18 whole sage leaves
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound linguine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. Marinate: Whisk together oil, lemon juice, garlic, chopped sage, thyme and 1 teaspoon salt. Pour over fish cubes. Cover and chill, 1 hour.
2. Skewer: Thread fish cubes, tomatoes, green onions and whole sage leaves onto six metal or soaked bamboo skewers (set aside marinade). Season with pepper and a little more salt.
3. Grill: Heat a ridged griddle over medium-high heat. Grill until fish is nicely browned on all sides, 10 minutes. Meanwhile, boil linguine tender. Drain.
4. Sauce: Heat remaining marinade to a boil. Boil 1 minute. Add butter. When melted, add cooked noodles. Toss. (If you like crispy noodles, you can scrape the sauced noodles into a wide skillet and set over medium heat, shaking now and then until browned on the bottom, 5 minutes. Cut into 6 wedges and serve crispy side up.)
5. Serve: Divide soft or crisp noodles onto six plates, add 1 kebab to each. Enjoy.