Sunday, January 27, 2019

FISHING IN WINTER: A directory of mongers


 by mary a. nelen

As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans. –Ernest Hemmingway

Its lunch time and you’re near the beach. If you’re lucky. Let’s go with the beach even though most of us are landlocked. You go to the cafĂ© and order up some oysters with a glass of cold beer or wine. And it is like Hemmingway says, you become happy and make plans.

But can you do this in your sorry land locked state? Hell yes. How? Flirting, faking it and becoming one with a fish monger. It could be a fish monger at the Price Chopper or the Stop & Shop or the Big Y or Guidos. Fish mongers are accessible, not as accessible as an oyster on the half shell not far from the beach but still. Tell them your story. Tell them you want wild caught from the Atlantic (if you’re on this coast) tell them you want the lesser known fish, not the salmon/swordfish/shrimp fish that sits at the popular table in the lunch room.

Here is a directory of fish mongers in Columbia, Berkshire, Litchfield and Dutchess County courtesy of my story in RURAL INTELLIGENCE...

What you want is dog fish, grouper, and mackerel, mackerel especially. Why? Mackerel, Boston and Spanish, is suddenly fashionable in certain places. It’s at the bottom of the trophic cascade so its a healthy, oily fish full of nutrients. Mackerel is so much in the supply chain it might become Snackeral if we’re lucky but for now content yourself with a fish monger near you. 

He or she will respond to customer interest. Try it yourself. Saunter into the market, ask for the fish monger at the fish counter, if it’s a part time worker hosing down mussels, ask her when the fish monger comes in. If she doesn’t know at least find out when they make fish deliveries in the store. Usually its twice a week. Then, go on the day after the fish is scheduled to arrive, Friday, for example. When you’re there ask the monger or whomever is behind the counter, which is the freshest fish in the case. 

Fish is wonderful in winter when its most flavorful after foraging all summer. Make friends with a monger. As for ice fishing, that's another story.