• Marilyn Gardner Woods

Let 'em eat fish...

I have been called a persnickety eater. Certainly, I'm an unadventurous diner. Not likely to dive into unfamiliar dishes. Especially those with sauce. Never can tell what might be hiding under…


However, a very persuasive French-fare-inclined gentleman convinced me to share an entrée with him at the upscale Bistro du Marché recently. “I think you’ll like it,” he said pointing to the selection on the decorative—flourishes, flowers, and calligraphy—menu. Loup de Mer, Écailles de Pomme de Terre, Beurre Blanc.


When the slightly officious server placed what looked like an artful post-Impressionist still life in the center of the table, I learned I would have my first taste of Branzino, the

featured prominently in the fine dining establishment’s cuisine.


Branzino is an Italian word for European sea bass. I have eaten sea bass on occasion, but regular old American style, unlike this popular Michelin-star restaurant delicacy which yes, did melt in my mouth, its magnificent flavors mingling. I dreamt of the culinary experience that night. Playful fishies reminiscent of those in Fauve artist, Maurice de Vlaminck’s whimsical painting, Nature Morte aux Poissons, flipped and flopped through my dreams.



Two weeks later, at Parc Bistro-Brasserie, slightly less upscale, I couldn’t help but take note of the savoir-faire of one of my dining companions who ordered the Branzino with the casualness that I might opt for a soy latte. I ordered pasta. No mushrooms.


One summer evening not long after, I was invited to dinner with my next-door family.

Imagine my surprise coupled with secretly held confidence when Sophie and Maddie, two of my five granddaughters, staged a magazine-worthy intimate dinner party al fresco by the pool which featured European sea bass—we each were served our own Branzino.




I did my best to project a “Oh this old thing” sort of casualness about the entrée, as I de-boned the slender whole fish as gracefully as possible while delighting in the culinary talents of the sweet and slender young women who are related to me, with palettes far more sophisticated than mine.


Branzino. My very first encounter just weeks earlier, my second followed a short while later, and here was my third encounter.


You know how it is when you buy a white automobile and everybody’s driving a white car? You can’t help noticing.


There’s a word for that.

Baader-Meinhof, (pronounced badder minehoff) an occurrence otherwise known as the frequency illusion.

This phenomenon occurs when the thing you’ve just experienced, noticed, or been told about begins to crop up regularly.


A Stanford linguistics professor named Zwicky coined the “frequency illusion” term in 2005. Unbelievably, the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon isn’t named after anybody who discovered or researched it. Instead, it's named for a militant West German terrorist group, active in the 1970s and to explain that will require more research on my part.


In the meantime, for a tempting taste try ordering the Branzino.


And don’t be surprised if Baader-Meinhof, the phenomenon in which something you encounter everywhere, begins to pop up in your everyday life. Now that you’re familiar with the term, it won’t be the first time you’ve heard it!




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