Jul 2, 2009

they'll eat anything.

Might as well keep rolling on the food subject. I'm a bit of a foodie myself. I'm always interested in world food culture, especially Asia's. I love Asian food...Japanese, Korean, Indian, Thai, etc. But, I think everyone would agree that Asians eat some questionable stuff. Over there, anything that comes out of the water is fair game. And they don't waste anything. Nothing. Eye balls, guts, skin, bones...yeah. They know how to cook it, and it's mind-blowingly spectacular.

This also leads us to the bigger picture of American food culture. We're spoiled and grossly ignorant when it comes to our food. You give a fish to an American, he fillets it, skin off and throws the rest in the garbage can. Then he looks at you funny because all you gave him was ONE fish. You give a fish to anyone else in the world, they would cook it whole... and enjoy every bit of it. The American would look at this, cringe, express extreme distaste under his breath, and grill up his meager meal feeling culinarily superior and a little hungry after eating it. Some of the best parts of our seafood (or any food for that matter) are the parts that we dismiss. And parts that, even in my opinion, are meant to be dismissed are also gladly eaten elsewhere in the world. What I'm trying to get at is that we as Americans don't appreciate our food. All we know is that we want it, we want as much as we can carry, and we want some more of it for later, too.

I've worked the charter boat docks for a couple of years now. I've watched group after group of paying fisherman go offshore to catch 100s of pounds of whatever they can hook. It's like an indian tribe shooting down as many buffalo as they can so they can survive the winter. They bring back enough fish to feed a very large village, and it all goes into their second freezers at home. They might get around to eating it, or it might hang out in there for 6 months to a year, get freezer burnt, and then get tossed out because it's time to go out and load the freezer again. What ever happened to going fishing with your buddies, drinking beer, and just catching dinner? I feel like now it is less about the fun of a day of fishing, and more about the harvest. Fishing like its going out of style, or more likely, fishing like its a race.

My favorite part about doing research on charter boats is that when we are on our way back to the dock, we'll make a "grocery" stop. We'll hit a few spots to catch some dinner. After we catch a few and everyone can take a fish or two home, the captain encourages us to keep fishing to catch our limit anyway. And not only catch our limit, but to try to catch the biggest fish we can. It's not because we want to bring more fish home, its because he doesn't want to show up at the dock with a slightly vacant cooler. It's ego. It's pride. We need to catch our limit. We HAVE to catch our limit. I can see why they act like this. It's good for business. You show up to the dock everyday with your limit and line the planks with big fish, you make yourself a name as a good captain. It brings customers back to line that cooler again. It shouldn't be like that.

And its not just charter boats, recreational fisherman can be the same way. Everyone catches as many fish as possible right up to the point where it's illegal, and sometimes that doesn't stop them. You're not starving, guys. In fact, a lot of us spend more money catching the fish than it costs to buy the very same fish at the market. I think they want to justify the gas, the ice, the bait, and the tackle expense. On most days, you'll never catch up. It shouldn't be about the return, it should be about the day.

Again, it comes back to pride. "Dammit, I spent all of this money getting ready for this fishing trip, and I'm sure as hell going to bring back everything I catch whether its legal or not." Or a lot of times, it's fed by a personal vendetta against management. People will break the law every time they hit the water to spite "the man." The animosity that gets thrown my way about fisheries management in the Gulf of Mexico... it would take me days to write about that.

A little change in our food culture and our attitudes about fishing couldn't hurt. So get on it. By the way, the throat of the fish is the best part.



  1. It's true...I put up a big stink about trying the throat, but when you finally convinced me, it was well worth it. You're always right about fish, and I'll believe you next time.

  2. Cheeks can be good too. Nice blog, btw.

  3. I miss groceries...

    -The Small Bossy One