Blue Blood
February 9, 2017
AJ Linn (45 articles)

Blue Blood

There is a certain hierarchy in the gastronomic world. Meat is king, alongside good wine, foie-gras and caviar. Until recently fish was not really up there on the top table, possibly because within living memory it was the food of the poor, and residents of coastal communities still remember being able to survive the post-civil war hunger thanks to an abundance of sardines, which could literally be scooped out of the sea by hand.


Once thought of as inexhaustible, fish is now a controversial food on many levels, and the information age has increased awareness of the problems associated with its consumption. Just a few days ago this newspaper’s Spanish edition drew attention to a campaign being mounted by parents of Nerja schoolchildren to have panga and tilapia removed from the menu. This cheap fish with low nutritional value is imported from Vietnam where it is usually bred in contaminated waters and fed on remains of other fish species. Perhaps surprisingly it is on sale in many European supermarkets with minimal information offered on its source.


Farmed salmon is another matter, being high in nutrients, but also unsuitable for regular consumption owing to high levels of artificial hormones, colorants, and its often-contaminated environment.


The allegedly prime fish market on the planet is the Tsukiji in Tokyo. This collection of corrugated-roofed shacks that has grown organically over many decades, is the greatest tuna market anywhere. It is here that the tuna caught in the almadraba nets off Tarifa and Barbate are sent by Japanese merchants, and where it is not uncommon for a 200 kilo specimen to change hands for 100,000 euros. A thousand fish are auctioned at five a.m. daily in a matter of minutes, and will be consumed in the best restaurants of the Ginza neighbourhood. The market has its days numbered though, as the site is required for redevelopment, much to the chagrin of the traders.


Even at this hierarchical level there can still be, and indeed is, controversy. In a half-century Atlantic stocks have fallen by 95%, while mercury levels have climbed to dangerous levels.


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AJ Linn

AJ Linn

AJ Linn se estableció en España hace más de 40 años tras una abreviada carrera en Inglaterra vinculada entre otras cosas con la importación de vinos. Ha vivido en El Puerto de Santa María y Cádiz, ahora Marbella, y durante las ultimas décadas se ha dedicado a varios negocios, hasta que actualmente se limita a escribir sobre vino, gastronomía, flamenco y el estilo de vida español. Aparte de su columna semanal en el Diario Sur, sus artículos se publican con regularidad en medios de habla inglesa, tanto en España como en el extranjero.


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