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People who blanket-veto seafood


Hassouni
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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?

We don't have Albertsons or Krugers here, so I don't know what their fish counters smell like. But, if a fish store, or supermarket fish counter, doesn't smell good it's probably because they aren't cleaning their showcases every night, and doing a good washdown of the floors and counters. That has to be done.

Also, some people may not be able to tell the difference between a good fish smell and one not so good. In the case of my aging cod, some people might find the smell offensive because they're used to eating fish that has no smell - and no taste. And I wouldn't be surprised if some supermarkets used some sort of chemical solution to suppress the smell of fish because of this.

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Well, with the parlous state of wild fishing stocks in nearly every global region, I for one am totally glad that there are solid blocks of people in many countries (those with the luxury of choice) who will neither buy nor eat fish!

Everyone should eat less fish, other than me.

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Okayyyyy, if you insist

How Food Preferences Vary by Political Ideology

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

This is kind of interesting but doesn't seem to address fish and is, I think, at least partially flawed. Because, IMHO, it seems to oversimplify 'Conservative' and 'Liberal'.

I started a thread once here about the Meyers Briggs Personality Inventory and how it might relate to our food preferences. But it turned out that the respondents to the thread were all of a few certain personality types like my own that liked that sort analysis. Apart from this, I was curious as to how one's personality preferences might shape political views and found some web pages that had done some polling.

I expected to find that liberals would favor feeling over thinking and that conservatives would be the opposite. Instead, I found that it wasn't quite so simple. In general, with some (of the 16) types there seemed to be a clear correlation, but not so with other types.

I looked deeper and at least two models of conservatism seemed to emerge: Rules-based feeling conservatives ("My momma always said..."), and thought-based conservatives ("These levels of spending are not sustainable..."). I suspect that an inclusion of these divisions on the conservative and liberal side might've muddied the results. It also raises questions about whther the questions that were asked to identify affiliation were biased based on assumptions.

But I think that regionality is looking like a better predictor of fish preference than anything else so far.

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I find this discussion interesting as I could easily have become one of the people that refuse seafood. I grew up in the '60s and '70s in Western Pennsylvania, at a time where there was no fish that hadn't been breaded and frozen in the grocery store. Any fish my dad caught was utterly destroyed by my poor mom. The only time I've ever had food poisoning was from fried fish in a local restaurant.

I did have one restaurant in Jamestown, New York (Davidson's) where I had some of the best fried fish I have ever had. I don't know if they kept up the quality, but at the time, the owner flew to the Atlantic coast regularly (my memory is daily, but that was 30 years ago, so I can't verify it) to buy his fish, so it was extremely fresh and prepared by someone that cared about what they served. I think that one restaurant was what helped me to develop a more adventurous palate as I looked for other similar excellent experiences once I got older.

I didn't immediately broaden my tastes (spent 3 years in Hawaii in the Army in the 80's and never ate local food), but as I matured, I started to open my mind. I found the wharf in Monterrey CA, fresh prawns in the market in Crete that I boiled myself, then finally eased my way into sushi with seared tuna that I could tell myself wasn't raw. Now I love all the sushi I've tried and am looking to try more.

However, I have friends that are less willing to try new things. One thing I've noticed about most of them is that they eat to live, not live to eat. If they find something they like, they are willing to have that same dinner every day. They don't remember that great thing they had last week or month or year and set out to find it, they are happy in their comfort zone and have no desire to venture out. My attitude is fine, I'll look for restaurants that have their comfort zones and the new things I want to try, and failing that, I'll be happy with the friendship and on days when I am dining alone I go looking for the new and interesting.

Finally, there are a lot of allegedly decent restaurants that still ruin seafood. I have had salmon several times and always disliked it. I occasionally try it to see if my taste is expanding, but that was never the case. I had had it as sushi and liked that, so I didn't understand exactly why I didn't like what I was being served at decent places that made so much good food otherwise. I finally had a restaurant cook it somewhere around rare or medium rare, and absolutely loved it. All the others had cooked it at least medium well (I had never been asked how I wanted it, and left it to the chef to cook it correctly) but now I understood, I didn't like overdone salmon. The thing is, I had to put some effort in to find out what "cooked right" really was, and only someone with an adventurous palate will do this work.

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Yes, salmon's a bit like tuna - once it's cooked to 'hard' you have to mix it with some mayo, or make it up into fishcakes or the like.

One thing interesting to me in this thread is the sushi meme. I can remember clearly in to the 80's, when the hierarchy in white western culture was the other way round and it was raw fish that was thought beyond the pale.

Edited by Blether (log)

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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That isn't exactly correct, in my experience, Blether. I worked for Mazda (American division)for most of the '80's and nearly all of our functions featured sushi and sashimi at cocktail parties. In the affluent beach communities in SoCal, where I lived and worked then, sushi was a really big deal. We'd go out after work to have drinks and a snack and scream "Konichi-wa!" back at the sushi chefs. Good times.

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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.

I'll tell you what I find "provincial." And that is the notion that Americans are somehow always different (i.e. worse) than everybody else on the planet. When people start saying that, I immediately think that they just haven't traveled much.

I have. Not only have I been (literally) around the world, I've lived in several other countries (Hong Kong, The Philippines, Panama, Germany), and can tell you that Americans are certainly not the only ones that often prefer to see something familiar when they sit down at the dinner table.

In every nation where I've visited/lived, you find folks that are adventuresome eaters.

And folks that aren't so much.

Sometimes I really wonder why so many of us Americans seem to feel the need to bash ourselves.

Whether the criticism is valid.

Or not.

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.

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That isn't exactly correct, in my experience, Blether...

Oh yeah ? And since when was California the barometer of white western culture ?

You tell me where this baromter is located, then. I specifically stated that this was *my* experience, not that of WWC, which sounds like a phrase one learns in a social sciences class, btw.

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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.

I'll tell you what I find "provincial." And that is the notion that Americans are somehow always different (i.e. worse) than everybody else on the planet. When people start saying that, I immediately think that they just haven't traveled much.

I have. Not only have I been (literally) around the world, I've lived in several other countries (Hong Kong, The Philippines, Panama, Germany), and can tell you that Americans are certainly not the only ones that often prefer to see something familiar when they sit down at the dinner table.

In every nation where I've visited/lived, you find folks that are adventuresome eaters.

And folks that aren't so much.

Sometimes I really wonder why so many of us Americans seem to feel the need to bash ourselves.

Whether the criticism is valid.

Or not.

I hear ya, sister. We are the most generous nation and people on the planet and yet we not only get grief from the rest of the world, but from our own citizens. Just because my husband like mashed potatoes and gravy as often as I'll make them for him, doesn't make him stuck in a rut. It's what he likes best and he happily eats everything else I make for him, so why does it matter if he doesn't care for rice? Same deal with my dad who loves different types of foods (he is 80) and will try anything, but he wants his bread or rolls with his supper.

It's very puzzling to me, in fact it makes me angry when I hear my friends talk about "the world" hating us as a nation and what lousy tourists we are. What does that even mean? Isn't the duty of the host to make the guest comforable, especially when they are spending money, and not to snot at them for having different habits? I find that quite rude.

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We are the most generous nation and people on the planet and yet we not only get grief from the rest of the world, but from our own citizens.

[...]

It's very puzzling to me, in fact it makes me angry when I hear my friends talk about "the world" hating us as a nation and what lousy tourists we are. What does that even mean? Isn't the duty of the host to make the guest comforable, especially when they are spending money, and not to snot at them for having different habits? I find that quite rude.

Surely this is supposed to be satire?

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To follow up my perplexed outburst with something more on-topic: In continental Europe, there are a lot of people who don't eat seafood (or at least not the more "exotic" stuff like molluscs or crustaceans). You mainly find them in regions that do not have access to the sea. While some people might not even eat fish, this phenomenon is much more rare as lakes and fishable rivers can obviously be found all over Europe. I agree with the theory that it mostly depends on what one gets to eat while growing up. For example in Austria, it is unlikely that child casually comes into contact with mussels or shrimp, whereas they most likely would get to eat trout or some other freshwater fish. The situation is obviously very different in a coastal German city like Hamburg where there will be early contact with seafood of various kinds.

Addendum: There would seem to be a class aspect as well. City-dwelling kids from the lower social strata are unlikely to encounter fish of any kind other than the greasy-tasting deep-fried variety (previously polar cod, in recent years pangasius/iridescent shark).

Edited by pep. (log)
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Fish sticks are the reason that many Americans don't like fish. My wife's family never had good fish unless they were visiting her father's relatives in New England. According to her, they never had anything but frozen fish sticks during her entire childhood. To this day neither my wife or her siblings ever expresses any desire to eat any seafood, and on the infrequent occasions that they have some which is reasonably good, they always comment on how odd of an experience it was.

My own experience is different, at least as far as fish goes. We lived near fish shops that would get fish in fresh from the Great Lakes. I had an uncle who was an avid fisherman, and many weekends the whole extended family was treated to platters of freshly caught fried fish. But I am dismayed at the current price of similar fish, and I can almost never find them fresh.

But this brings me to another reason why Americans might not be big on seafood. When I was young, fish and seafood were pretty much seen as "poor peoples' food." It was a cheap substitute for "real meat." There were exceptions, such as lobster, oysters, or rarities like swordfish. But there just wasn't much esteem gained from serving wall-eye, or perch, much less catfish or buffalo fish. After all, anyone could just go down to the river, or pond, and catch a whole "mess" of them. Sometimes trout were seen as being a fine meal, but I suspect that was because of the skill an angler was supposed to display to catch one.

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My theory is that in cultures where culinary skills atrophy... seafood experiences higher rejection than other ingredients.

Seafood tends to spoil quicker than say Beef or Chicken so you have to be more diligent about when you buy it.. it can't just sit in your fridge for a couple of weeks waiting to be crock pot

Seafood tends to be more delicate with regards to freezing & refreezing

Seafood has a reputation that it can be dangerous if you don't know what you are doing

With seafood you have to be a more astute consumer.... look at the eyeballs, touch for firmness etc., whereas red meat & poultry tend to be more forgiving etc.,

The U.S. is largely a society where people can't cook. A society whose culinary tradition was decimated following the rapid growth, migration & lifestyle changes post World War II. Where several generations largely grew up without learning any culinary skills. I think when you don't feel comfortable in the kitchen, cooking from scratch, sourcing ingredients etc., and you are not particularly located in fishing village with a strong seafood culture... seafood tends to be one of the more challenging foods to attempt.

And while we do have some great seafood, and regional chefs that utilize it & promote... save for some regions with strong traditions... New Orleans, Maine etc., our regional cuisines are rather tepid & shallow... not that there aren't distinct regional cooking styles, ingredients & classic dishes... but that the regionality is preserved more in "museum" restaurants & advanced home cooks not in the grassroots / mainstream channels. Almost anywhere you go in the United States the bulk of what is purchased & consumed in any particularly location is overwhelmingly centrally produced ingredients prepared in not particularly regional fashions. For example, here in Wine Country there is definitely a distinct, emerging regional cuisine we have 200+ farms producing all kinds of local ingredients.. but the reality is that the average meal is prepared with ingredients sourced outside of Wine Country, and prepared in a non-Wine Country meal.

Another way of saying it... is if you exclude the 5 to 10% of meals prepared with local ingredients in a regional California cuisine style... the restaurant & home cooked meals consumed by 90 to 95% of the people on any given day could basically be had anywhere in the country. Which is a long winded way of saying... that even if we have nationally well recognized oysters lots of people here (perhaps the majority?) have never eaten an oyster in their life.

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I dunno. Every week I see people fishing the river and piers of San Diego, and taking home the catch for dinner. A few weeks ago, little mackerel were biting, and people were collecting strings of them. Someone's liking the stuff!

Some of it is knowing how to cook it, imo. I have NO idea what to do with a mackerel other than bring it to Peter, Maria or Thuy, any of whom would make it into a wonderful meal. Me, I'd make a smelly, smoky house and a hungry family.

As pointed out upthread, seafood is easier to screw up and harder to recover than most 'main' courses.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Okayyyyy, if you insist

How Food Preferences Vary by Political Ideology

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

That was kind of a dumb analysis.

Orange County, the birthplace of the Wing Nut Movement... err the Modern Conservative movement, would strongly fall on the "liberal" side of food preferences...

Oregon, land of the flannel wearing, tree hugging, blue collar liberals who think Obama is a right wing Manchurian candidate would fall squarely on the "conservative" side of food preferences

We have a more cosmopolitan, bi-coastal culture that is a bit distinct from the interior of the country... and food consumption patterns are somewhat correlated (not caused) with politically leanings of the coasts vs. the interior.

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Fish sticks are the reason that many Americans don't like fish. My wife's family never had good fish unless they were visiting her father's relatives in New England. According to her, they never had anything but frozen fish sticks during her entire childhood. To this day neither my wife or her siblings ever expresses any desire to eat any seafood, and on the infrequent occasions that they have some which is reasonably good, they always comment on how odd of an experience it was.

I'll catch it now, but I like fish sticks. :biggrin:

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Fish sticks are the reason that many Americans don't like fish. My wife's family never had good fish unless they were visiting her father's relatives in New England. According to her, they never had anything but frozen fish sticks during her entire childhood. To this day neither my wife or her siblings ever expresses any desire to eat any seafood, and on the infrequent occasions that they have some which is reasonably good, they always comment on how odd of an experience it was.

I'll catch it now, but I like fish sticks. :biggrin:

I'll join you, I like them too. With tartar sauce. Not my first choice now, but I credit them as being the first step on the slippery slope of learning to love fish as a kid.


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I think we are talking about two different sets of people. One set is the "blanket veto" that the original poster discusses, and the second are the folks who are perhaps "timid" about seafood.

I was in the latter category for a while due to lack of exposure and experience as has been noted a number of times in earlier posts. At 13 in France watching my friends swoon over a bowl of mussels - I was scared to death - they were completely alien to me. Shrimp with heads??? - never had seen that before. Even the large fish market which was like a warehouse and smelled sweet rather than fishy as the fish was fresh off boats, was a frightening, too close to reality, experience. Back home my dad had some employees from the South who went rock fishing on the weekend and brought in fish to sell. Dad came home with these thick, blindingly white fillets. My mom had no clue coming from a poor land-locked and lake poor farming community. First she prepared them fried as the fishermen had directed Dad. We loved it - sweet flesh plus fried - what is not to love. Then, as usual, they went the "healthier route" and baked them with herbs and lemon slices. The stuff was so fresh we even enjoyed that. Mom had no concept about mayo or tartar sauce so it was just lemons from the trees squeezed over. It was a journey, but I think not having a "bad" experience like flavorless fish sticks or mushy overcooked fish helped. As to canned tuna - Mom had no idea. I first had it at a friend's house and was entranced with the strong flavor of the tuna along with onion, sweet pickle and mayo. Tuna noodle casserole was also an exotic thing.

So for someone with an open mind I think that the bottom line is experience and exposure. I suspect that if you are in the "blanket veto" group you might also have "no way" attitudes about other foods.

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I'll catch it now, but I like fish sticks. :biggrin:

I'll join you, I like them too. With tartar sauce. Not my first choice now, but I credit them as being the first step on the slippery slope of learning to love fish as a kid.

Me three, but skip the tartar sauce. A fish stick is the fastest route to a fish taco.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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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?

All across south Louisiana are sandwich shops selling sandwiches called "po-boys." Shrimp, oyster, catfish, crawfish, and oh, those soft shell crabs! Besides po-boys, there are shrimp salad sandwiches, grilled shrimp sandwiches, and I've seen crab burgers, crawfish burgers and shrimp burgers. Don't forget obster rolls (not here, but in New England).

We love our seafood here on the Gulf Coast.

Having said that, my son won't touch the stuff. He crazy.

Dear Food: I hate myself for loving you.

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I like fish sticks too. Like may be too strong a word, but they are now certainly better than the ones I chomped on as a kid. But my wife, NO! just can not put those down in front of her. Tried making home made fish sticks with the mediocre cod I could find. Umm, no? The store bought were better. Even with tartar sauce.

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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?

All across south Louisiana are sandwich shops selling sandwiches called "po-boys." Shrimp, oyster, catfish, crawfish, and oh, those soft shell crabs! Besides po-boys, there are shrimp salad sandwiches, grilled shrimp sandwiches, and I've seen crab burgers, crawfish burgers and shrimp burgers. Don't forget obster rolls (not here, but in New England).

We love our seafood here on the Gulf Coast.

Having said that, my son won't touch the stuff. He crazy.

That's not surprising, Louisiana has a very strong local culinary tradition. What I meant is that Pret is a national chain in the UK, seen on every street corner in London and elsewhere, in airports, etc. I just don't see a national chain doing that here.

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That's not surprising, Louisiana has a very strong local culinary tradition. What I meant is that Pret is a national chain in the UK, seen on every street corner in London and elsewhere, in airports, etc. I just don't see a national chain doing that here.

No one in the UK lives more than about 75 miles from the ocean. I suspect that if you drew a 75-mile stripe along the places where the US borders the sea, you'd find a similar intensity of interest in fish, especially if you accounted for the differences in population density. The UK is about 60 million people in an area roughly the size of Oregon. Meanwhile, Oregon, a state that sits on the Pacific ocean, is home to fewer than 4 million people.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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