Petty Revenge, Fresh Fish, and Other Things Best Served Cold

Deconstructing the dog days of summer with crudo

Cured Fluke with Yogurt, Watermelon, Sunflower Seeds, and Togarashi

Cured Fluke with Yogurt, Watermelon, Sunflower Seeds, and Togarashi

Cured Fluke Crudo.Matt Taylor-Gross

I've always found the term "dog days of summer" horribly unfair to dogs: it is so hot—SO HOT—that even the dogs are laying low, too droopy to do anything but pant and drool. What hope do we have to get anything done?

No, the dogs are fine. Have you ever had a dog? Dogs sleep all day in the dead of winter as much as in the summer, and right this very second there are hundreds, if not thousands of dogs in Very Hot Places exuberantly encouraging their humans to play with them, pleasepleaseplease, just to throw the ball just once. This is basically the point of dogs. The universal constant for the speed of light is c (299,792,458 meters per second); the Newtonian gravitational constant is G. The terrestrial constant for boundless energy and joy is dogs.

To vindicate the dogs, it turns out the term "dog days of summer" has nothing to do with oppressive heat slowing canines down. The Farmer's Almanac notes the specific dates for the dog days: July 3rd through August 11th, irrespective of actual weather. As National Geographic reports, the dog days stretch all the way back to ancient Greece, and refer to a principle of astronomy in which the dog constellation Sirius rises during the early part of what's now July, which is indeed a hot time of the year. So the folk legends went, it was a stretch of time that could be conducive to fever, aggression, and even outright war.

Getting back to our dog days, which by thermometer and humidity index stretch well beyond August 11th, I find it's best to use them as an excuse to treat oneself to petty revenge and other luxuries best served cold. High on the list is soft serve ice cream, natch, but the top spot is saved for raw fish. As much as I can eat, enough to make a shark feel embarrassed for my gluttony.

Nothing makes this swampy haze and undignified sweatiness feel more civilized than sitting down to a dish of gorgeous crudo or delicately pickled ceviche. That's why we've compiled this list of raw fish dishes to keep your hearts cool even if your skin is broiling. Because if you're cooking in the sun, there's no reason your food should be too.