December 8, 2011

Fish out of water

To fish or not to fish: that is the question. Sometimes as a I diver I think about my eating habits. I read a lot about destructive fishing methods and whenever I order seafood in a restaurant I feel guilty. On the other hand I like fish food...

I remember some dive trips in Egypt where the local crew caught fish: a tuna or a grouper. They chose an environment friendly way of fishing with a single hook, they had the fish and didn't destroy the coral reefs as the bottom trawlers. My first fresh tuna steak on a Egyptian boat was a stunning experience, I ate only canned tuna before which was in a totally different league. Later I tasted fresh groupers and cuttlefish too and seeing how it was caught made the dinner more delicious.

Anyway I can't resist seafood in restaurants. In Hungary certainly I prefer local freshwater food, I know a great place not far from Budapest where they make only trout. The owner, a friend of us is a really nice guy and his roasted trout is awesome! In some restaurants I like to taste Hungarian style fisherman's soup called "halászlé" from catfish.

Whenever I travel to abroad I like to try new foods. There are place where simply do it better: in Madeira we always had delicious meals. They make my absolute favorite fish soup in that small island but the swordfish steaks with banana (filetes de espada com banana) is a special dish too. I like the Canary Islands' fish soup (caldo de pescado) which I had in several places around the archipelago. In Graciosa island we had the daily menu in a small restaurant in the harbor with tasty fish soup and a glass of awful wine. I usually prefer beer or water, the local wines' quality can be a positive or more likely negative surprise. I avoid those frustrating experiences by choosing a pint of lager...

I do the same in Croatia where I tasted many fish food. One of the "classics" is the stuffed cuttlefish (punjene lignje), but they make it differently in every restaurant. It's exciting to cut it and see if there's cheese, ham, rice or something else inside the cuttlefish.

Sadly you rarely know if you have local fresh fish or imported one. When the crew catch you know it's really fresh but there were another memorable moments during our trips. We had a flat tire in Tenerife in a small fishing village. We decided to have a meal and in the restaurant there was a huge fridge with the fresh local fish: we chose one and they made it in the roast in the opened kitchen. It helped to forget our car problems very soon! This year we spent a wonderful week in a liveaboard boat in Croatia. On the last day I saw the captain as he cleaned some fish near the boat. He revealed his fisherman father caught them in the morning and the cook made one of my best Croatian meals.

Many nice moments, many good food... I hope someday they'll use sustainable fishing methods everywhere in the world and I'll have the chance to see fish under water and on my plate as well.

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