Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

People who blanket-veto seafood


Hassouni
 Share

Recommended Posts

Historically in catholic Ireland fish was consumed on Fridays (because that was considered fasting) so fish had an associated sense of penance. I think that's a factor in some circles. Apart from that I agree it's a question of smell, and whatever the variety of fish and seafood flavour, that classic fishy smell seems common to most species.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My assumption is that the "people who don't like fish" didn't have a dad or grandfather who took them fishing as a kid.

Couple that with having parents who generally overcooked the bejeezus out of everything, making whitefish have the consistancy of chicken breast, and I can see why kids nix fish. Mom doesn't like the lingering smell. Dad doesn't like the cost of the fish. Kids don't like anything that isn't chicken fingers or pizza. So it becomes a vicious cycle.

Of course, these days, many of our streams and lakes are so polluted the fish are toxic. (And the Gulf of Mexico -- I have my doubts, even though the gub'mint says the oysters and shrimp are hunky-dory.)

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While I won't disagree about meat centric, I also have to say that I have noticed a real enjoyment of fresh and salt water fish and seafood on my trips to Germany (for example the time I watched my uncle accost a man carrying a smoked eel home and not let up until he had been led to the secret back gate of the backyard smoker and been sold an eel that had been promised to someone else)...

Hey, Snadra. Good story. Of course like the US, Germany his its coast, and strong nautical and naval traditions. Would I guess right that your uncle isn't from Ulm or even Munchen ? Sorry to generalise while talking in general.

Reasonably accurate generalization: my relatives all lived in Schleswig-Holstein (in fact that incident took place in Schleswig very near the Dom) and in the small amount of travel I have done in Germany I have definitely noticed there a stronger attraction to seafood and shellfish the closer you are to open waters. I think most early German immigrants to America came from the landlocked regions rather than Schleswig-Holstein or Mecklenberg-Western Pomerania. However, there seems to be a strong tradition of freshwater fish eating in other, more land-locked parts of the country going by what we saw, and have since read in some German cookbooks (or vaguely interpreted in the case of German language cookbooks). Actually, we noticed that people who hunted also tended to take an interest in eating fresh water fish and eel, and partly put it down to traditions being important to them (yeah, yeah, generalizations...).

Have you ever tried prawns done as a pasta sauce alla Marcella ?

I have tried prawns many ways, and usually can barely get them past my nose. I cook them sometimes for my prawn loving partner, by which I mean I get everything ready, turn the exhaust fan on high and give him directions from upwind. I have been to the fish market and out on the floor on a tour without being bothered, but the smell of prawns cooking turns my stomach, and I know we get brilliant prawns here.

Of course you're right that there is a natural differences in taste from person to person. There again, the prevalence of seafood-aversion in landlocked areas cf coastal ones says it's not just that, doesn't it ? The "what you grow up with" element is a big one with all foods, I think.

For me, hunger is the ultimate test - how many fish-loathers with nothing else to eat for a week would refuse properly-prepared seafood ?

I wonder about that too. People driven by hunger will eat almost anything, and it's fair to say that many seafood loathers have probably never tasted any well cooked seafood. I have no doubt I could choke down some prawns if I had to (and sometimes have when the situation required it) but I'd still be choking! Or maybe it's just more socially acceptable to hate fish in a landlocked region than in a coastal one. You'd be amazed at how many Sydney-siders I meet who fess up their own dislike once I state my preference for just one prawn-free dish when we're out for a Chinese meal...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

... You'd be amazed at how many Sydney-siders I meet who fess up their own dislike once I state my preference for just one prawn-free dish when we're out for a Chinese meal...

Funny. You guys have prawns in such abundance you're probably coming at it from the other direction and are just bored of them.

Still - most of the smell comes from the shells and heads, doesn't it ? You can make that sauce with pre-peeled, and little or no prawn smell. But then why push yourself if it's not your thing ? I screwed the sauce up the first time (didn't blend hard enough), but when I made it again this summer the scales fell from my eyes - it's truly wonderful, the wine and garlic are in just the perfect amount. You can see some of that incarnation used cold here, if you didn't already.

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is my take on it: When seafood isn't totally fresh, it smells disgusting. Prior disgust can be easily re-triggered by the slightest old-fishy whiff. I can barely stand to walk past grocery seafood counters because of the smell, and I mean even at fancy upscale markets. It makes me nauseous.

It wasn't until I moved to the Pacific coast that I found I like fish. I buy it at a shack on the ocean. The ocean smells like fish, but not like spoiled fish.

Egzackly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is my take on it: When seafood isn't totally fresh, it smells disgusting. Prior disgust can be easily re-triggered by the slightest old-fishy whiff. I can barely stand to walk past grocery seafood counters because of the smell, and I mean even at fancy upscale markets. It makes me nauseous.

Here's the first offense - unless someone else beats me to it.

Some fish, especially cod, improve with a few days aging in the fridge. Cod, fresh off the boat, has practically no flavor. Careful aging results in better flavor. Same is true of hake, though one has to be more careful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And England's best flatfish - best fish, according to some - Dover Sole, also improves on a few days' holding. (And belies the thought that sole is plain or flavourless, a crime there more of Lemon Sole, in fact a very different species).

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have two friends who absolutely, positively, not-in-a-million-years-when-starving, will NOT eat seafood of any kind. In both cases, it was a piece of "bad" fish consumed as a child that turned them against it.

I grew up in western Tennessee, far from any coast, but on Kentucky Lake, so catfish, bass, crappie and bream were staples for me as a child. I never knew shrimp came any way other than breaded, frozen, deep-fried until I went to the Gulf Coast for the first time in my early 20s, and after experiencing them boiled, steamed and grilled, almost never eat them fried any more. I love scallops, crab, lobster, clams, but can take or leave oysters. Sushi-grade tuna, either barely seared or completely raw, is probably the most sublime thing I have ever eaten. I don't care for squid or octopus, but I think that's a texture thing; my first experience was with calimari, probably not very good calamari, and I think I was traumatized by it.

Oddly, the one fish I really don't care for is salmon. Unless it's smoked. Go figure.

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I generally have a "no seafood" request, even though there is some seafood I find quite pleasant. Why?

Most people who buy fish don't have my standards for it. It's much easier to say "Sorry, I don't care for salmon" than to explain that I find anything other than impeccably fresh, wild-caught (this part may be negotiable)salmon to have an unpleasant coppery/bloody taste that only gets worse as you cook it further. Or that I can't abide preserved salmon (gravlax, lox, smoked salmon). I've had salmon that I ate until I was sure I'd burst. Most salmon I choke down a few bites to be polite, covering it up with as much other flavors as I can.

My seafood preferences are irregular, and it's too much to expect anyone to remember. I adore sushi, but need to mix raw-fish sushi with other foods, or I can't keep it down. There are times I crave tuna salad and will eat it several days in a row, but otherwise, I find tuna salad revolting. I like salmon but struggle with steelhead. Rainbow trout is good, but I have problems with the smell of cooked fish skin. I've had good tilapia, but a lot of tilapia has that muddy taste, so I usually avoid it. I have fish bone issues (even with canned anchovies, where the bones are too small and soft for me to choke on).

Many people butcher perfectly delicious fish. My husband's grandmother is notorious for this. She'll drizzle fish with olive oil, add a bare sprinkle of 20-year-old paprika and shove it under a non-preheated broiler until it flakes under its own weight.

About a year ago, I had some -bad- fish. It was frozen, but I think that the grocer had a problem with their freezer or it was mishandled somewhere along the line. The first few pieces from the bag tasted fine, but made me sick. Then we pulled out a piece that was obviously off. Smelly, wrong texture, wrong color. It was months before I could look at fish again, and I still haven't purchased frozen fish.

"Fish" and "seafood" covers an awful lot of ground. I didn't grow up in a house that ate a lot of fish, so I'm still not as familiar with all the varieties of fish as I'd like to be. So "Do you like X?" is often met with "I don't know. Either I've never had it, or I can't place it."

I currently live near a very good fishmonger, and I'm taking advantage of that to broaden my horizons. In the meantime though, "Sorry, I don't care for fish" is frequently the best alternative.

Edited by ElaineK (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In Europe the vision of David Beckham in his tracksuit & trainers celebrating a big 3-0 victory is sexy.

Sexiness in Europe is soccer and compact sportscars Thats MASCULINE.

In the USA the cowboy with the 10 gallon hat, mustache, boots, and gun and pick up truck is considered sexy and masculine.

Hunting is masculine...You cant look sexy and masculine fishing I guess!

How many people think the Gortons fisherman is HOT?

Cowboys want a juicy steak and potatoes.

I know many men who think sushi and fish are sissy food.

I live in the suburbs of Philly, I love all seafood...But even 30 miles west of me some of the grocery stores have NO fresh fish counters and those that do have shrimp, flounder and surimi

Now this might be the most controversial statement Im gonna say...

In Annette Gordon Reed's book "Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings -An American Controversy" she states that one of the reasons President Jefferson was so infatuated with Sally Hemings (aside from the fact that she was his dead wifes sister) was because when she accompanied him and his daughter Martha to France for a tour, she was trained in French cookery and ingredients and at that time in Americas infancy American women had no cooking culture or refinement and Sally knew how to cook Mr Jeffersons favorite meals many of which were exotic for those times.

Perhaps in some parts of the country today Americans still havent progressed in their cooking culture...

OMG Im already ducking.

Edited by GlorifiedRice (log)

Wawa Sizzli FTW!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pret a Manger in the UK has tuna, crayfish, and prawn sandwiches at a minimum, and probably smoked salmon too. When was the last time an American sandwich shop had anything besides tuna?

There seems to be a running theme in this thread that most Americans don't like fish/seafood, and it's not popular or widely available. It seems to me that this is a version of a common theme that runs through many threads here; that is, that in general, Americans have plebeian and unadventuresome palates, aren't interested in eating anything much beyond the meat and potatoes with which they are familiar, have no intellectual curiosity when it comes to food, and basically are fearful, middle-brow culinary duds and are happy to keep it that way.

This is a big country, and I'm sure that generalization applies to some. But as to the fish and seafood thing, I don't see what you all see. I see a lot of fish available, so somebody must be eating it.

To answer the original question: "When was the last time an American sandwich shop had anything besides tuna?" - I'd suggest you pull into any McDonald's. Or Burger King. Or Wendy's. And order a Filet-O-Fish, or whatever. Or you could just go to Long John Silver's, a fast-food chain that specializes in seafood.

Want something fancier? Ever heard of Red Lobster? I don't offer it up as any shining example of gourmet fish fare of course. I mention it to point out that if seafood is so unpopular in "middle America," how is it that the Red Lobster parking lots are always full?

Not to mention that there seem to be sushi joints on every corner, and you can't get any "fishier" than that. In addition to the sushi, many Japanese restaurants also have habachis, where scallops are one of the most popular items they sell.

The standard "starter" for middle-Americans going out to eat still seems to be a shrimp cocktail, and cold shrimp is a mainstay on even the fanciest cocktail buffet tables. Every fine-dining restaurant I've been in in the US has a seafood section offering many kinds of fish, including "fresh catch of the day" (in fact, I read somewhere that the American appetite for orange roughy was a contributing factor to its rapid depletion in the waters off of Australia), and often a selection of fish soups: clam chowder, oyster stew, lobster bisque, a bouillabaisse knock-off, and the list goes on and on.

It's not just fine dining, either. Speaking of plebeian middle-Americans, they're eating at Golden Corral, Ryan's, Home Town Buffet, Luby's and the like. And every one of them offers several kinds of seafood, including plain baked or broiled fish filets, and some type of cold seafood salad (the sort that the ladies used to be so fond of at lunchtime). I've never seen a Chinese buffet without a variety of seafood. Italian restaurants feature seafood and fish pastas. The northeast has lobster rolls, crabcakes and clambakes. The northwest has salmon and halibut and all sorts of fish stews and chowders and fish markets so popular that they're famous and a de rigueur stop for any visiting celebrity or politician. The southwest has fish tacos and caldos and ceviche and shrimp de ajo and mojarra (tilapia) and (my personal favorite) red snapper Veracruz-style. The deep south has catfish parlors and po'boys and muffalettas stuffed with shrimp and oysters and mudbugs. And jambalaya and crawfish pie and file gumbo.

Every single grocery store with which I am familiar has a seafood section, and you can peruse the frozen food aisles at Sam's and Costco's and find big bags of various frozen fish fillets.

I suppose if you don't have a family member that loves fish, you're not in the habit of seeking it out. In my case, fish/seafood is my father's number-one favorite thing to eat by far, and my mother loved it as well, so we didn't go anywhere that didn't offer it. That was a very short list.

"People who blanket-veto seafood" obviously exist, and the reason why seems to me to be an interesting and valid discussion.

But in my opinion, anyway, extrapolating that dislike from some individuals into a generalization about the American public is just not correct.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's not so much that I'm generalizing about everyone, but of the people I know, most if not all the ones that reject all seafood are American. I do of course have American friends that love it or at a minimum tolerate it, but definitely not all of them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is my take on it: When seafood isn't totally fresh, it smells disgusting. Prior disgust can be easily re-triggered by the slightest old-fishy whiff. I can barely stand to walk past grocery seafood counters because of the smell, and I mean even at fancy upscale markets. It makes me nauseous.

Here's the first offense - unless someone else beats me to it.

Some fish, especially cod, improve with a few days aging in the fridge. Cod, fresh off the boat, has practically no flavor. Careful aging results in better flavor. Same is true of hake, though one has to be more careful.

Not offended, but also not sure we are talking about the same thing. Do these aged fish smell like the fish counter at Albertsons/Krogers/etc?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's not so much that I'm generalizing about everyone, but of the people I know, most if not all the ones that reject all seafood are American. I do of course have American friends that love it or at a minimum tolerate it, but definitely not all of them.

Well, I wasn't so much referring to your original question, as to a few other thoughts expressed throughout the thread. As I said, it seems to me that that rather dismissive, condescending, and derogatory opinion of the middle-American palate surfaces around here with considerable regularity.

And although of course it's often true to some extent, in my opinion, anyway, more often it's a lazy, facile, cliched, simplistic, easily-repeated stereotype that is just not valid.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okayyyyy, if you insist

How Food Preferences Vary by Political Ideology

http://hunch.com/media/reports/food/

The link provided by GlorifiedRice made me think about the socioeconomics of bad food experiences early in life.

My family was fairly affluent but I was bussed to an elementary school that was not very flush with funds. This was back in the 60s and I remember little about it, but I do remember school lunch. We were forced to clean our plates. One year we were regularly force-fed stewed cherries in heavy syrup. I don't know why - perhaps Michigan had had a bumper crop, and we were the beneficiaries of unsold product. I used to try shovel it under the table (along with many of the other things on my tray). To this day I can't face cherry pie. Maybe I could get over it.

My husband has a similar school lunch story involving canned "Italian" products - think Chef Boyardee ravioli. He is an otherwise very adventurous eater, but had to make an effort to "get over" red sauce phobia.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...

In the USA the cowboy with the 10 gallon hat, mustache, boots, and gun and pick up truck is considered sexy and masculine.

Hunting is masculine...You cant look sexy and masculine fishing I guess!

How many people think the Gortons fisherman is HOT?

Cowboys want a juicy steak and potatoes.

In my experience growing up in an area where men mined, logged or ranched for a living (ie were 'traditionally' masculine) fishing was and is seen as a very masculine pursuit, as it is here in regional Australia. In fact, I would say it's masculinized to the point of mythology (see 'A river runs through it' or 'The deadliest catch' for example). Even the most meat-potatoes-and-gravy cowboys I knew still enjoyed fish and looked forward to holidays where they had access to fresh seafood.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...

In the USA the cowboy with the 10 gallon hat, mustache, boots, and gun and pick up truck is considered sexy and masculine.

Hunting is masculine...You cant look sexy and masculine fishing I guess!

How many people think the Gortons fisherman is HOT?

Cowboys want a juicy steak and potatoes.

In my experience growing up in an area where men mined, logged or ranched for a living (ie were 'traditionally' masculine) fishing was and is seen as a very masculine pursuit, as it is here in regional Australia. In fact, I would say it's masculinized to the point of mythology (see 'A river runs through it' or 'The deadliest catch' for example). Even the most meat-potatoes-and-gravy cowboys I knew still enjoyed fish and looked forward to holidays where they had access to fresh seafood.

Boy, that's the truth. You start talking with the guys about going fly fishing or wrassling with deep-sea swordfish or casting for salmon up north and just see how happy they'd be to have a lowly woman join their party.

Unless all you want to do is squat by the campfire and cook.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...

In the USA the cowboy with the 10 gallon hat, mustache, boots, and gun and pick up truck is considered sexy and masculine.

Hunting is masculine...You cant look sexy and masculine fishing I guess!

How many people think the Gortons fisherman is HOT?

Cowboys want a juicy steak and potatoes.

In my experience growing up in an area where men mined, logged or ranched for a living (ie were 'traditionally' masculine) fishing was and is seen as a very masculine pursuit, as it is here in regional Australia. In fact, I would say it's masculinized to the point of mythology (see 'A river runs through it' or 'The deadliest catch' for example). Even the most meat-potatoes-and-gravy cowboys I knew still enjoyed fish and looked forward to holidays where they had access to fresh seafood.

Boy, that's the truth. You start talking with the guys about going fly fishing or wrassling with deep-sea swordfish or casting for salmon up north and just see how happy they'd be to have a lowly woman join their party.

Unless all you want to do is squat by the campfire and cook.

I dunno, you still might interfere with the drinking and the manliness and the drinking.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think a number have people have hit on the basic issues here where were you reaised Lower to middle class NYC (with dried salt cod and fish sticks) can be a whole different world than close more coastal areas where really great fresh fish is abundant, and people know how to prepare it. This can be mitigated if you are the truly adventurous type. And that in turn might not turn out well if what is largely available is not good quality. The people I know in NYC how are into fish go to great lengths- and great expense- to get the truly good stuff. They wouldn't touch 90% of what is in the local markets. So, it doesn;t seem like such a simple or easily affordable thing to do, especially if you don;t have a lot of time and money to experiment and learn how to cook it properly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's not so much that I'm generalizing about everyone, but of the people I know, most if not all the ones that reject all seafood are American. I do of course have American friends that love it or at a minimum tolerate it, but definitely not all of them.

Well, I wasn't so much referring to your original question, as to a few other thoughts expressed throughout the thread. As I said, it seems to me that that rather dismissive, condescending, and derogatory opinion of the middle-American palate surfaces around here with considerable regularity.

And although of course it's often true to some extent, in my opinion, anyway, more often it's a lazy, facile, cliched, simplistic, easily-repeated stereotype that is just not valid.

Thank you for this, Jaymes. I grow weary of hearing and reading all of the time about how provincial we Americans, especially we Southerners are. It's like some people who are newly come to religion and can't pass up an opportunity to tell you how you are doing it wrong.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...