Wednesday, December 12, 2012
I'm not surprised.
I read an article yesterday that said a large percentage of the fish sold in NY is misidentified. In other words people are buying what they think is one kind of fish and in fact getting another kind. And I am not surprised. This reminds me of something that happened a very long time ago.
My father used to do fish fry’s in Daytona back in the 60’s and early 70’s. It started as a lifeguard thing and was usually at the Daytona lifeguard station in Eleanor Village but he sometimes went to other locations. I enjoyed working with him so I was often his helper. Not only did I make a little money doing it (usually paid in sodas and candy) I also enjoyed the scenery if you know what I mean.
The menu was usually the same: Fried Mullet, Hushpuppies, Coleslaw, Baked beans and Iced Tea. Dad’s fish fry’s were famous and there were even articles written about them in the local paper. If you never had fresh fried mullet, you are really missing something. When cooked fresh and cooked right it is awesome.
One summer, dad was asked to put on a fish fry for some businessmen from NY. It was for the ground breaking ceremony for a place called Palm Coast which is just north of Daytona. At the time it was nothing but a small building in the midst of sand dunes covered with palmettos. Dad told me that he once had a chance to buy some of that property for 25 dollars an acre when he was younger but he figured that it would never be worth anything so he passed on that opportunity. He even laughed about this venture as these men planned to develop this property. Boy was he wrong. These ¼ acre lots ended up selling for around 100 thousand once the development took off.
Anywhoo, the NY businessmen wanted a fish fry but they didn’t’ want mullet. They wanted Grouper because everyone in NY “knows” that’s the best fish around. The problem was that grouper was several dollars a pound and Dad wouldn’t make much money if he served that. So Dad called a friend of his down at the inlet and found out that he could get Amberjack for less than a dollar a pound. Amberjack is a large fish that was very abundant at that time. The tourists would go deep sea fishing and catch literally tons of them and then give them to the boat crew since they had no way of keeping them while on vacation.
So we got a bunch of Amberjack and cleaned and fillet them. Once they were fillet and skinned, you couldn’t tell the difference between them and grouper fillets. The fish fry went well and everyone there loved and raved about the “grouper”. Only my Father and I knew the truth. Disclaimer: I was a minor and the time and Dad has passed so I figured it was safe to tell this story. And that is why I am not surprised that so many people in NY aren’t getting the fish they think they are. I guess we started it way back then.
Have a great day,