A traditional Czech Christmas meal - a carp with potato salad (photo: Stanislav Nevyhosteny CC)
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I once read a short story by this American who bought a live Christmas carp and kept it in his bathtub until Christmas day, but he and a child had grown emotionally attached to the fish by then and so they let it go free in a nearby pond.

I thought it was kind of funny because that same year I had also bought a fish and kept it in the bathtub until Christmas day.

When we put it in the bathtub my stepson asked what its name was, so I told him "Hanzlík," who was this publisher whom that same week had stolen the royalties on about ten thousand books from me while laughing in my face about it.

I figured naming him "Hanzlík" would help me keep some emotional distance from the slimy little bastard.

I took Hanzlík out to the front yard on Christmas day and knocked him upside the head with a hammer (showed him not to rip people off). We had a good Christmas dinner. Before you start thinking I am stupidly twisted, I didn't really hit that fish as revenge on Hanzlík the publisher, but it seemed like an amusing joke to me at the time and so I gave him that name. I could have lovingly named the fish "Charlie" or "Herbert" and I would have hit him upside the head just the same.

I am not silly enough to joyfully let my Christmas dinner swim into the depths of a nearby pond. I guess I missed Free Willy parts I, II , and lll.

In fact it seems to me that the American's story actually demonstrated or revealed the deeper consumerism of Americans. That American had never had a problem with the turkey he ate for Christmas dinner because his mother bought it each year from the frozen foods section at the supermarket.

She brought it home conveniently plucked and headless.

She just had to remove the plastic and remember to pull the package of extras out of its chest cavity before she slid it into the oven, and he wasn't so sensitive as to cry and bury the frozen turkey in the backyard and put flowers on its grave on Christmas day.

I have knocked a fish upside the head every year for years.

Americans who want to live in this country should at least once try having carp and potato salad for Christmas dinner. Your opinion and taste might change if you just make yourself try it. If it helps, don't eat anything the day before.

I guarantee you the Christmas carp will taste divine.

There are plenty of other Czech foods that I initially thought tasted bad or looked too disgusting which I now like very much, and acclimating my taste buds has made things much easier for me.

But one last very important warning for the daring but inexperienced Carp cleaner that I am trying to make out of you: after you chop its head off and need to clean out its innards, be very careful about removing the gall bladder, you have to think like a doctor who is performing a delicate operation when you remove this because if it bursts it will spill this terribly bitter yellowish colored bile all over the meat and completely ruin your Christmas dinner.

You cannot eat the fish if the gall bladder bursts, believe me. Sorry, this ain't America where the bag of bile would be removed by some automated bile removing robot in the processing plant, but just consider it a challenge, and best of luck.