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.

Sign in to follow this  
vserna

Cod fish consumption in Portugal

Recommended Posts

Note from the host: I splitted some posts from the thread Quality of regular restaurants compared to Italy to create this thread. The detail achieved in the debate regarding the specific figures of cod fish consumption in Portugal deserves its own thread.

Well, Victor, you're Spanish so you won't hold it against me if, as a Portuguese, I would argue that everyday cuisine is far better (specially on a low budget and with true randomness) in Portugal than it is in Spain.  As for your astonishing statistic that half the fish we eat is salted cod (have you seen the price of "bacalhau" lately, compared to fresh locally caught fish?  Also, are Spaniards not partial to the odd bit of bacalao?) to explain why the Portuguese eat so much more fish than the Spanish, would you mind letting me know your source, as this would be front page material? ;)

Since the question wasn't about ingredients at all, but about everyday cheap meals in restaurants, I'd say Italy wins hands down, with honourable mentions to France (for being less cheap but richer in cooking methods) and Portugal (for being cheaper but not at all good in presentation). 

The awful truth, of course, is that, at the very bottom cooked-meal level, all four countries - Italy, France, Portugal and Spain - get noticeably worse with every passing year.

Miguel, Miguel, Miguel... :sad:

I have always the impression you suffer from this nagging, resentful Spanish complex endured by old-time Portuguese nationalists: "De Espanha, nem bom vento, nem bom casamento"... Should I translate? Old-time Spanish nationalists have the same boogaboo vis-à-vis France, by the way. I'm happy to report that I don't.

I'm getting a bit fed up with your supposed expertise. How long have you been writing about food and wine? Which Spanish restaurants do you really know? Where are you coming from, anyhow?

I know Portugal. I visit Portugal constantly. I go to big-town restaurants and to small-town inns in Nelas or in Régua or in Valença do Minho or in Estremoz.

Everyday food is better in Spain, and it has been better for a long time. Quite a bit better. But I have strenuously tried to avoid Spanish-Portuguese comparisons on this board because it isn't fair given the size, wealth and culinary diversity of the two countries. However, if you insist, I'll go into that in Technicolor. With the credibility, or lack thereof, inherent to the fact I've been a food and wine writer for major European and American publications for the past quarter century.

Now on the codfish information. My father never was responsible for fisheries anywhere, but I'm a professional reporter and I like to deal in fact, not in fiction. So please do consult this Report on the seafood consumption data found in the European countries of the OT-SAFE project from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. Besides pointing out that "statistical data concerning seafood consumption is not available for Portugal", they do indicate this:

"The Portuguese seafood consumption per capita (Kg/year) depends substantially on how cod is included in the statistical data. As an example, between 1992-1994 the Portuguese seafood consumption per capita (Kg/year) was 37.4 if cod was included as dried fish, however if it was converted to fresh codfish (which is the normal procedure in FAO) then the Portuguese seafood consumption per capita would be 61.6 Kg/year."

Quod (not cod) erat demonstrandum.


Edited by pedro (log)

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll ignore the personal slights and, since you pride yourself on being such an objective reporter, concentrate on the study you cited, which just happens to mention that they were unable to include Portugal in the general comparison and so made an estimate based on what data they were able to gather.

You said that 50% of the fish we eat in Portugal is salt cod. Please note that heavily consumed fish such as pargo (legítimo e mulato), sargo, chocos (cuttlefish), cachucho, raia (skate), cherne, robalo (sea bass), pregado (turbot), linguado (sole), salmão (these last four farmed and very cheap), lulas (squid), peixe-espada (scabbard fish), generic "redfish" and countless others (like the ubiquitous sapateira crab) weren't included in their tally, making it a fraction of actual consumption. Still, even by this very partial list, it's obvious to the researchers that Portugal eats an awful lot of fish.

I can't be bothered to do the arithmetic as it obviously shows your figure of 50% salt cod consumption is an invention.

The consumption per capita for salt cod given is 8.28 per capita (all figures from page 33 of your source).

For the other fish estimated the numbers are respectively:

5.36

3.89

(already these two fish alone would be more than half, but the list goes on:

1.48

3.84

1.51

0.32

2.33

0.30

0.14

0.14

0.75

That would be at least another half again.

If you added all the other fish, I'd say you'd have to add at least four other halves.

That's a lot of halves to make salt cod half of the total.

In other words, isn't it a bit late for you to be confessing that the very study you based your 50% claim actually has the honesty of "pointing out that 'statistical data concerning seafood consumption is not available for Portugal'"?

I won't bother citing actual statistics. As you can imagine, being such a big importer and fisher of fish and fishing being so important to our economy, the Portuguese government and international fishing organizations, not to mention the EU, do have some idea of how much fish we consume. Your own government has good figures. Two phone calls should do it. These are facts available to anyone - no expertise needed or claimed.

Is it also a scientific fact that anyone who disagrees with you is not only wrong but anti-Spanish? Really, Victor, for such a modern guy you really need to deal with the meaning of "in my opinion" and accept that not only are there often more than one about anything but that, for some strange reason, they may not even coincide with your own.

I maintain my opinion (that difficult word again) that everyday cheap cooked food in restaurants in Portugal is, by any standard, far better than in Spain. The fish and shellfish are better too - though Spain's are very good. Spain buys a hell of a lot more of it than any other country. The fact that Spain is more industrialized and richer doesn't really carry any weight, as you well know. In fact, it tends to be a negative factor as far as food quality is concerned.

Only last Saturday I read a magnificent column of yours in "El Mundo" about freedom of expression and my wife and I both spent some time praising it. Perhaps you should read it too? ;)

P.S. I love Spain, as you also well know!


Edited by MiguelCardoso (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Only last Saturday I read a magnificent column of yours in "El Mundo" about freedom of expression and my wife and I both spent some time praising it.  Perhaps you should read it too? ;)

I believe so much in freedom of expression, Miguel, that I haven't suggested for one second that you cease expressing yourself here - even if it's to give out sets of incomprehensibly explained figures and to keep making unsubstantiated assertions on the relative state of gastronomy in two European countries. It takes a lot of love for freedom of speech, Miguel, I can assure you. I just wish you were able to back up your constant claims with something somewhat - authoritative? Is that the word? It would be useful. For instance: find a single, professionally recognized food writer who shares your views, and quote him or her.

But do file away. Long live free speech!


Edited by vserna (log)

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad to hear it Victor!

The figures are from the study you linked to in order to justify your 50% claim. If it's not authoritative, well, you shouldn't have cited it as the basis for your "fact", should you? ;)

Anyway, I enjoy your opinions far too much to pursue this any farther. I was a fool once and apologized for it - but I learnt my lesson. Please believe I've evolved since those early hot-headed days. You're a knowledgeable and generous poster and well, to be honest, I actually dislike disagreeing with you nowadays. But, to paraphrase that great gastronome John Wayne, a man's gotta say what a man's gotta say and it's good to know you agree. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The figures are from the study you linked to in order to justify your 50% claim.  If it's not authoritative, well, you shouldn't have cited it as the basis for your "fact", should you? ;)

Free speech is one thing, Miguel. Free blah blah is another. Please, look up Table 9.2 of this very serious Dutch study. (Dutch, not Spanish. Spain left the Netherlands centuries ago.) Anyone else on the board can verify if this is correct, BTW. Thanks!

In it, one can clearly see yearly consumption of fish per capita in 2000 by the Portuguese, summarized, species by species. Topping vthe list: 8.3 kilos of dried cod, but with a note pointing out that due to the "value of consumption of cod using the equivalent live weight for 1999, following the methodology used by FAO", that figure must be changed, into the equivalent of 30.1 kilos of live codfish. All other categories of (fresh) fish and shellfish total 20.06 kilos per capita per year. So, total consumption, about 50 kilos. A lot.

So, yes, I was wrong - codfish isn't half of the Portuguese fish consumption. It's two thirds of it. Sorry to have erred on the safe side. Yet, you accuse me of having overstated the percentage of cod fish. (Is it offensive to eat so much cod? I can't really fathom why you took offense in such a heartfelt way.)

BTW, Spain's fresh fish consumption in 2003 was 38 kilos per person, according to EU figures.

What I had said in my original post is that Spain's seafood consumption was second in Europe behind Portugal, with the proviso that half of the Portuguese consumption was codfish. You took exception to those data. I still can't see why. Except for somewhat underestimating the role of dried cod in your country, they were correct.


Edited by vserna (log)

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
After Portugal (where about half the total fish consumption is dried codfish)
So, yes, I was wrong - codfish isn't half of the Portuguese fish consumption. It's two thirds of it.

Victor: let's keep to what you said and the data you presented to back it up, shall we? This way it will be easier for you to understand, as I refuse to believe you're being deliberately dishonest.

First, you said 50%(i.e. 1 of every 2 kilos) of fish consumed by Portugal was "dried codfish". Then, after having consulted your data again, you revised it to claim that 2 out of every 3 kilos are "codfish". Please note the discrepancy between the two claims. The first refers to "dried codfish" (i.e. bacalhau). The second to just "codfish". This is important because, in our debate on the matter, I was debating your first claim. Your second claim was made after my rebuttals. In Portugal, we don't eat fresh codfish - only dried, salted codfish - so obviously, it's salted codfish that is relevant to what we consume.

Leaving aside all other data, I'll continue to use the study you linked to, from which you got your figures.

this very serious Dutch study. (Dutch, not Spanish. Spain left the Netherlands centuries ago.)

I never said it was Spanish - it was clearly presented by you as Dutch and the study itself clearly identifies itself as Dutch. Neither did I say it wasn't serious - only incomplete, as the study itself honestly acknowledges. But I'm glad you regard it as very serious, as I shall be using its data to show you, once and for all, how it fails to back up your claims of 50% consumption of salted codfish.

In it, one can clearly see yearly consumption of fish per capita in 2000 by the Portuguese, summarized, species by species. 8.3 kilos of dried cod, but with a note pointing out that due to the "value of consumption of cod using the equivalent live weight for 1999, following the methodology used by FAO", that figure must be changed, into the equivalent of 30.1 kilos of live codfish. All other categories of (fresh) fish and shellfish total 20.06 kilos per capita per year. So, total consumption, about 50 kilos. A lot.

I'll use your own summary first. If our total consumption is "about 50 kilos" and we consume 8.3 salted cod, then all you have to do is to divide the total (50) by the number of kilos of salt cod (8,3) to come to the conclusion that salt cod actually accounts for one-sixth of total fish consumption, since 8,3 times 6 is 49,8.

I think we've established that it's not half (which is 3/6) . Therefore, your claim was actually three times greater than the data allowed. That's 300% over.

However, if you look at figure 9.2 (the one you suggested I read), you'll find that the actual figure quoted is 58 kilos . Your "about 50 kilos" would be more correctly rounded up to "about 60 kilos", but let's stick to the actual figures. What the study says is "Portugal is one of the top world seafood consumers with an estimate of 58 kgs seafood consumption per capita (FAO, 1999)."

Since the actual salt cod consumption they use is 8.28 kgs and the 1999 (not 2000, as you said, btw) FAO estimate is 58 kgs, salt cod actually represents a neat one-seventh of total seafood consumed, since 7 times 8.28 is 57.96. That is, 14.3%. A big difference from your 50% claim, you'll agree.

The fact that the FAO methodology chooses to multiply salt cod consumption by a factor of 3 to even out calculation of fresh fish consumed has nothing to do with it, since what Portugal consumes is salt cod ("bacalhau"), not fresh codfish. In any case, we're discussing your own claims that:

about half the total fish consumption is dried codfish

In your second claim, you were inconsistent. Your original claim was about dried codfish but somehow the crucial "dried" part got lost in your second claim:

So, yes, I was wrong - codfish isn't half of the Portuguese fish consumption. It's two thirds of it

I was, of course, disputing your first claim. With the second, revised claim I may even agree, if I chose to accept the FAO methodology. But since the codfish we consume is all salted cod, it's hardly relevant.

FAO uses this methodology because it's interested in the total quantity of fish consumed before it's processed (as well it should, if it wants to keep track on general exploitation of ocean resources) and it calculates that it takes 3 kilos of fresh codfish (weighed whole as it is landed) to make 1 kilo of salt cod.

With this in mind, the Dutch study says:

"The Portuguese seafood consumption per capita (kgs/year) depends substantially on how cod is included in the estimate. As an example, between 1992-94 the Portuguese seafood consumption per capita was 37.4 kgs if cod was included as dried fish. However, if it is was converted to fresh codfish (which is the normal procedure in FAO), then the Portuguese seafood consumption per capita would be 61.6 kgs/year."

Please note, for the sake of accuracy, that if we accept FAO's calculations - which obviously produce a far higher total seafood consumption - then the actual amount of salt cod consumed as a percentage of the total goes significantly down!

Your claim of 50%, of course, referred to consumption of salted cod - i.e. what we buy and eat - so let's not veer off track, though the Dutch study does also say, after recording that the figures they chose to use - the ones I've been using exclusively - would be different if FAO's methodology had been used, that a wholly different set of figures would be obtained if another equally noteworthy methodology had been used:

"Another important factor that should be considered is edible consumption (...) If the gross total for 1992-94 were used, then it would be 37.4 (...) However, if only the edible portion (the weight of the product which may be consumed entirely as food) is considered, we would have a [total seafood consumption] of 24.8. According to our information's (sic), the total seafood consumption per capita statistics elaborated by FAO take into consideration only gross consumption."

(All quotes from pages 33 and 34 of the study you linked to, figures 9.1 and 9.2; all emphases mine)

I shall not comment on your personal remarks as eGullet deserves to be spared that kind of stuff. I have carefully shown you, beyond dispute, that your claim that 50% of the fish consumed in Portugal is salted cod is wrong. I have used only the data used by the serious Dutch study you linked to in order to back up your claim. I have used it fairly and almost fully and, even though it wasn't pertinent to my rebuttals of your initial 50% claim, I have considered the FAO methodology you cited in your second, revised claim; even overlooking the fact that you changed your original claim, which referred to salted cod, not to just to generic codfish.

I established that the actual figure for salted cod consumption, using the figures from the study you referred to, is not 50% but 14.3 %. Moreover - though, again, it was not pertinent to the claim being discussed - I've showed that, if the FAO methodology is used, then the figure for salt cod consumption as a percentage of total seafood consumption would be dramatically lower, as the total is inflated by multiplying salt cod consumption (what Portugal consumes) by 3, in order to obtain an equivalent figure for fresh codfish, allowing for multi-national comparisons with countries which consume mainly fresh cod (such as the UK). It is a statistical distortion, with no bearing whatsoever on things gastronomical. FAO's own figures for salt cod consumption in Portugal are obviously no different from those used by the Dutch study.

However, I think it's fair to suggest that even a casual visitor to Portugal who goes to a dozen or so restaurants would easily conclude that, even by the most cursory glance at all the fish he saw on menus and being eaten by fellow diners, it's plainly not true that every second fish dish we eat is "bacalhau". We do eat a lot of bacalhau - one in seven is astronomical, which is more than enough to explain why we eat more of the delicious salted cod than any other country.

I took the trouble to go through the figures precisely because on the Spain and Portugal forum, it's surely interesting to know how much fresh fish and how much salted cod is consumed in Portugal and Spain and it would have been a pity if this information and discussion had been obscured by extraneous personal remarks. Since it's a gastronomical forum, it's obvious that what matters is what people eat and how they eat it. Like Spain, Italy and France, we Portuguese do enjoy our "bacalhauzinho" - but it must be salted and dried!

The actual amount of codfish - weighed whole, with everything - is as relevant, say, as the total weight of all the plants needed to extract saffron is to Spanish consumption. For every gram of precious saffron consumed, how many plant grams are thrown away? How funny saffron consumption statistics would be if, total weight being considered, every Spaniard was shown to consume ten kilos of saffron a year? In gastronomy, what matters is the final form of each ingredient and how it's cooked. Bacalhau is very important to Portuguese gastronomical culture and, for this reason, I felt it necessary to correct your wild over-estimation. I hope this will be the last we hear of this.

Warm regards,

Miguel


Edited by MiguelCardoso (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a) In Spain, as in Portugal I believe, the working assumption when talking about bacalao is that is salted / dried cod fish. The term skrei is more or less commonly used in restaurants and some fish stalls to refer to the fresh fish.

b) According to the issue issue 61 of DataPescas, from the Portuguese Direcção-Geral das Pescas e Aquicultura (DGPA) Portuguese Direcção-Geral das Pescas e Aquicultura (DGPA), page 11 BALANÇA COMERCIAL DOS PRODUTOS DA PESCA:

  • About 50% of the fish consumed in Portugal from January to May 2004 is frozen.
  • About 30% of the fish consumed in Portugal from January to May 2004 is salted/dried or smoked. This is without any multiplying factor applied to the figure, as far as I can tell.

I assume that the period can be extrapolated, that the balance between imports and exports reflects Portuguese consumption and that the largest part of the salted/dried/smoked fish indeed corresponds to bacalhau.

I've tried to find some specific data by species, but the Portuguese INE documents I found don't include data for cod fish since they just account for fresh / frozen / refrigerated captures.


PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I felt it necessary to correct your wild over-estimation.  I hope this will be the last we hear of this.

Boy oh boy oh boy, you really don't get it, do you, Miguel?

This is not about quantum mathematics or nuclear physics, about whether it's exactly 50% or perhaps 60% or maybe even 61%. No, I confess I didn't look into these statistics with a pocket calculator in hand before I casually remarked - in a context that had nothing to do with the relative dependence on fish in the Portuguese and the Spanish diets - that Spain ate a lot of fish. That was the only relevant point at the time.

We were talking about comparing cheap everyday food in Spain and Italy, remember? And on that subject I wrote that, all things considered, it was pretty good in both places, each with its strong points, with better vegetables in Italy and better fish in Spain. And when Alberto expressed surprise about this fish thing, I came back, right off the top of my head, with this statement about Spain being No. 2 in fish consumption in Europe behind Portugal, with the proviso that salt cod played a large role in Portuguese consumption, as it was half of it.

I knew this was the gist of it, because I've read a lot about fish consumption patterns, but I didn't go back to the official figures to measure things to the last gram. I was trying to make a general, but still valid point.

OK up to this point? Let's see the rest. In didactic, civilized, European fashion.

......

Good morning, class.

This is European Seafood Consumption 101. Portugal again today. Big subject. They're number one. Let's take it one step at a time, class.

Are you following, class? Please be attentive now, because there may be a test at the end... :unsure:

As you'll remember from yesterday, Miguel came into this thread like a bull in a china shop, proclaiming Portuguese gastronomic supremacy (so what else is new?), and in addition he went ballistic and said that - hah hah hah I gotcha - he'd like to see where Victor de la Serna had got those ridiculous figures, because there was no way the Portuguese ate that much codfish. OK, class?

Then the Dutch study that explained it was brought up. And then, ever since, Miguel has been rehashing the data in that study in unfathomable ways, to the point that I wonder if anyone else following this discussion has the slightest inkling of what we're talking about anymore.

Well, we should get to the real story, class. In simple, summarized, easy to understand terms. Please, class, turn again to the infamous table 9.2 of the Vrije Universiteit study. What does it tell us?

It breaks down total fish and shellfish consumption in Portugal for the year 2000 (yes, the Universiteit complains, Portuguese stats ain't nothin' to write home about, but they've still managed to get this stuff). Sardines this much, horse mackerel that much... And, leading the pack, codfish, with a bit more than 8 kilos per capita. But then table 9.2 (plop! goes the asterisk) brings in the FAO criteria (that's the Food and Agriculture Organization, class – the UN food agency – headquartered in Rome, where else!) and transforms these modest 8 kilos into... 30 kilos!

Hey, what's going on here? Is this the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes saint Mark wrote about in his gospel? What's this sleight-of-hand?

Calm down, class, please. No whispering in the back, please. We'll explain.

See, the Portuguese eat a lot of salt cod. This "unappealing rigid piece of rag which, by adding just a little olive oil and turning and turning with their hand, the Bilbao women manage to make into a work of culinary art..." (So wrote the Spanish food writer Punto y Coma to describe the making of one of the greatest cod dishes, bacalao al pil pil).

Salt cod is not usable as it comes. It must be re-moisturized in the time-honored de-salting process, and the wonderful final result is that you wind up with a lot more fish to eat. That's where the FAO's experts come in: in practical, real fresh fish consumption terms, they say that 8 kilos of salt cod is the equivalent of 30 kilos of fresh cod. Hey, they're the FAO. They should know.

OK, class, let's go back to the figures. Add up the quantities. If you stick to the original 8 kilos of cod, each Portuguese citizen, in 2000, ate... about 28 kilos of fish and shellfish, right? Obviously, 8 kilos is indeed a lot less than 50% of that figure! This Victor de la Serna character had it all wrong. Hah hah hah, sneer sneer sneer!

Hey, what's all that mumbling in the third row! Yeah, you, Fernando Point, the usual troublemaker, the wise guy. Take that stick of bubble gum out of your mouth and speak clearly. What's that piece of paper you are holding? The fish statistics by the Spanish Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry? Showing that total seafood consumption in Spain has been above 30 kilos per person every year since 2000, and rising? That salt cod is only ninth among the most eaten species in Spain? That the list is headed by whiting, squid, sole, sardine and anchovy? That, in 2003, Spanish seafood consumption was about 38 kilos per person?

Yeah, yeah. I'm hearing you. So what, Fernando?

Oh. You mean that 38 kilos is more than 28 kilos. Yeah, you've got a point there. And you say that unless we count those 8 kilos of salt cod as 30 kilos of fresh cod, the Portuguese total doesn't climb back up above 50 total kilos, and Portugal doesn't recover its rightful first place in Europe? That would be real unpleasant – those damn' Castilians might even brag they're numero uno, and they're not.

Then, of course, you point out that 30 kilos of cod is more than half the total Portuguese seafood consumption. So this despicable Victor de la Serna character didn't overstate the relative importance of cod consumption in Portugal. It turns out he even understated it a little.

Oh oh... Well... What can I say...

Rrrrriiiiingggggggggg!

Pphew...

There's the bell, class. Nothing more for today.

Hey, tomorrow it's fresh water fish consumption in Hungary! I want everyone to get those data right from the start, no fooling around with rehydrated salt perch or some other gobbledygook jive dumb stuff! And have a nice recipe for Lake Balaton fogás ready! And hold the butter and the bacon! These Hungarians have got to learn to use healthier unsaturated fats like olive oil now that they're in the EU! Tastes better too! So - let's do some decent homework, for a change!

And no running, shoving or shouting in the hallways, please!

Pleeeeaaase!


Edited by vserna (log)

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That was a good call, Pedro - by splitting the thread, we might better discuss the whole ever-more-important question of salt cod consumption in Spain and Portugal.

Since we're number-crunching, I'd like to show how my original rebuttal, based on the figures quoted in the Dutch study, was actually much weaker if the FAO conversion weren't taken into consideration.

Let's forget, for a moment, the wide variety of other important fish species - of which I provided a small list of the most obvious examples not taken into consideration by the Dutch study - consumed by the Portuguese and pretend, for the sake of argument, we don't consume any of them. I know it's silly, but it proves an interesting statistical point.

Salt cod consumption in Portugal is a constant at 8.28 kilos per capita per year. However, when FAO-weighted and converted into its equivalent in fresh fish (which is the standard measure used internationally) those 8.28 become a whopping 30.10 of total codfish, adding, as it does 21.82 kilos (in non-consumed fresh codfish) to the final tally of total seafood consumption.

The best way to do the sums, in my own opinion, is to add up the quantities of other fish, as it is considered constant by FAO, as estimated by the same Dutch study.

I did list them all in my original rebuttal, but I didn't bother to actually add them up, as they proved, even roughly guessed, to be considerably less than 50% (never mind 66%, as vserna's second, revised claim stated). Here they are:

5.36

3.89

1.48

3.84

1.51

0.32

2.33

0.30

0.14

0.14

0.75

This comes to 22.69 kilos.

Now, it all depends, as the Dutch study goes out of its way to make clear.

Add the 8.28 of salt cod and the total becomes 30.97 kilos. In this case, the percentage of salt cod comes it at just under 30%. (No, I haven't got a calculator handy...!)

If, as figure 9.2 makes clear, you add the FAO weighting, then you must add the conversion into fresh codfish of the 8.9 kgs of salt cod, which adds an extra 21.82 kgs of fresh fish equivalence to the total seafood consumption. Instead of a total 30.97 kilos, you get a new total of 44.51 kilos. In this case, the percentage of salt cod consumed (still 8.28 of course) is no longer around 30% but nearer 20%.

The total of cod consumed - all statistically weighed to be equivalent of fresh - has nothing to do with the matter under discussion, which was Victor's claim that Portugal's consumption of dried codfish was around 50%. His subsequent claim - no longer about dried codfish but just codfish - of it being around 2/3 was obtained, I imagine, by considering a total of 44.51 kgs in relation to 30.10 of a fresh and dried codfish equivalence. His mistake - I'm guessing - is that he forgot completely that what we actually consume is always dried codfish, i.e. not 30.10 but 8.28 kilos.

This is not only what he claimed but what is gastronomically significant, since, I repeat, we don't consume fresh cod.

However, the FAO estimate of 1999 used by the Dutch study is not 44.51 kilos but 58 kilos. So the salt cod percentage is 14.13%, as 8.28 kilos are what is actually consumed.

"Lies, damned statistics and lies!", as the famous saying goes - but even statistics have limits.

As an interesting footnote, almost all our cod is imported from Norway, Iceland and other countries. A long time ago it used to be dried here in Portugal but, sadly, this is no longer the case. So the responsibility for actually fishing cod should at least be shared by the countries who actually fish it and sell it to Portugal and other countries. I say "shared" because, morally, those who create the demand for salt cod should also be held responsible.

Now, I'd like someone to estimate what percentage of salt cod in Spain's total seafood consumption could be said to be, according to the same Dutch study. We all have other statistics but I think it helps the discussion if we all base our estimates on the same source.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Victor, you may be as sarcastic as you like but, since this is an interesting discussion, perhaps you could make your case in a more rigorous, even-handed way? Thank you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The total of cod consumed - all statistically weighed to be equivalent of fresh - has nothing to do with the matter under discussion, which was Victor's claim that Portugal's consumption of  dried codfish was around 50%.  His subsequent claim - no longer about dried codfish but just codfish - of it being around 2/3 was obtained, I imagine, by considering a total of 44.51 kgs in relation to 30.10 of  a fresh and dried codfish equivalence.  His mistake - I'm guessing - is that he forgot completely that what we actually consume is always dried codfish, i.e. not 30.10 but 8.28 kilos. 

This is not only what he claimed but what is gastronomically significant, since, I repeat, we don't consume fresh cod.

Can we all at least agree on some basic principles?

a) The terms Cod fish, bacalao and bacalhau, in Spain and Portugal refer to dried cod fish. We always add the "fresh" adjective to refer to bacalao fresco, so if this is not present, the adjective dried is implicit.

b) The equivalence between cod fish (dried) and fresh cod fish: the 3 to 1 ratio comes from the increase in weight that dried cod fish experiences in the desalting process, where you soak it in water for a number of hours.

c) The matter under discussion is cod fish and other fishes consumption in Portugal and Spain. We can use all the sources we want which are relevant to the subject.

That said, I'd like to read what you have to write about the figures I posted from the DGPA, Miguel. I confess that it surprised me the 50% of frozen fish.

And let's avoid running in circles.


PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You've both lost me when it comes to analysing the minutiae of the figures. For most of us what seems to be abundantly clear is that the consumption of bacalhau in Portugal remains significant.

Indeed (correct me if I'm wrong, Miguel), Portuguese claim proudly to have a different way of preparing bacalhau for every day of the year. It's always surprised me, given the lengthy coastline and the apparent prevalence of fresh fish most everywhere, the continued immense popularity of bacalhau in Portugal, especially with the advent of modern transport and refrigeration. Perhaps this is in part Miguel's point - that in truth, bacalhau is no longer eaten anywhere near as much as it used to be historically.

And as every schoolboy knows, dried cod continues to be widely enjoyed elsewhere, too, in Italy, France and Spain certainly. Dishes such as the exquisite brandade de morue or baccalà alla vicentina are enjoyed not as relics from the historic past but because they are still so damn delicious today. But my guess is that preparing them well might well be a dying art as a younger generation no longer wants to go through the lengthy processes of soaking, changing water, etc etc.

In Italy both baccalà (salt cod) and stoccafisso (air-dried stockfish) are enjoyed (I think, just to be perverse, what Venetians call baccalà is actually stoccafisso). Stoccafisso is generally considered the finer, better in flavour, more delicate and less salty than baccalà and the best, I recall, comes from Norway and is called ragno.

In Portugal is such a distinction made between salt cod and stockfish? Are certain cuts of the fish superior? If so, what are the names for each and what is the best gastronomically?

Marc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In Italy both baccalà (salt cod) and stoccafisso (air-dried stockfish) are enjoyed (I think, just to be perverse, what Venetians call baccalà is actually stoccafisso). Stoccafisso is generally considered the finer, better in flavour, more delicate and less salty than baccalà and the best, I recall, comes from Norway and is called ragno.

Absolutely correct Marc, both about the baccala'/stoccafisso trick those perverse Venetians :laugh: use to confuse the rest of us Italian and on ragno.

In different parts of Italy you can also buy baccala' cuts, presoaked, such as mussillo in Campania, i.e. the center cut sometimes compared to the tenderloin. You can also buy cheaper tail scraps for soups or dishes where baccala' ends up minced up anyway.

I too am curious to know if the same hold true in Portugal and Spain. I seem to remember Bacalhau being sold at different prices depending on fish size last time I was in Oporto (a few years ago).


Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If, as figure 9.2 makes clear, you add the FAO weighting, then you must add the conversion into fresh codfish of the 8.9 kgs of salt cod, which adds an extra 21.82 kgs of fresh fish equivalence to the total seafood consumption.  Instead of a total 30.97 kilos, you get a new total of 44.51 kilos.  In this case, the percentage of salt cod consumed (still 8.28 of course) is no longer around 30% but nearer 20%.

Miguel, if you use the FAO weighting to transform 8.28 kilos to 30.10 for a new total of 44.51, doesn't it make sense then to use the 30.10 figure to calculate the new percentage? That's all this rather weird disagreement bogs down to, feelings apart.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In different parts of Italy you can also buy baccala' cuts, presoaked, such as mussillo in Campania, i.e. the center cut sometimes compared to the tenderloin. You can also buy cheaper tail scraps for soups or dishes where baccala' ends up minced up anyway.

I too am curious to know if the same hold true in Portugal and Spain. I seem to remember Bacalhau being sold at different prices depending on fish size last time I was in Oporto (a few years ago).

That's the case, albiston, at least in Spain. You can buy it presoaked, which I wouldn't recommend except for very specific preparations and you can buy different cuts and qualities of cod, also from different countries, which will result in different prices depending on the factors combination.


PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
you can buy different cuts and qualities of cod, also from different countries, which will result in different prices depending on the factors combination.

Here in NYC, one might find two, or even three types of dried cod (or other substitutes) for sale in a maket catering to certain ethnic groups: Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Latin-American, etc.

That's at best, and they're all likely to be prepackaged. In Spain, one might wander into a tiny shop that sells only dried cod and find dozens, if not hundreds or types for sale. I can't even begin to recite the varieties that go far beyond the boneless and with bone choice in NY. There are qualties to be considered and then there are cuts. At a quick glance, it would seem as if they are able to cut the fish into more parts than an American butcher cuts a steer, right down to the dried and salted cheeks and jowls. Of course, if you really want a selection, you will avoid the tiny shop and search for the big shop in town where the selection rivals that of cheese in the finest affineurs in Paris. That Portugal may have an even greater appreciation for dried cod is mind boggling.

Drying and salting cod is method of preserving the fish just as curing hams is a way of preserving pork and brining pickles is a way of preserving cucumbers and other vegetables. Refrigeration is not going to do away with any of those products. Direct access to the sea is not going to lessen the appreciation for dried cod very much, at least not very much more than it will for the taste for ham, in my opinion.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Miguel, if you use the FAO weighting to transform 8.28 kilos to 30.10 for a new total of 44.51, doesn't it make sense then to use the 30.10 figure to calculate the new percentage? That's all this rather weird disagreement bogs down to, feelings apart.

Asola: Sure, if you want to calculate the amount of cod per se - whether fresh or salted and dried - according to the FAO 300% overmark. This would be the case if you were FAO and wanted an estimate of the total weight of cod fished before processing - or, in fact any other responsible body quite rightly worried about the depletion of cod stocks in the North Atlantic.

However, this wasn't what prompted me to correct Victor's claim that Portugal consumed dried cod to the tune of 50% of its total seafood consumption. The amount of dried cod consumed, according to the Dutch study he bases himself on, is actually 8.28%. This is what's gastronomically interesting - as opposed to ecologically. Ecologically - if you follow FAO's highly arguable but rational criteria - it doesn't matter one iota if Portugal eats the 30.10 as fresh cod, transforms it all into fish flour or indeed throws it away as part of a religious ritual. Ecologically, depletion is what matters and, as I said before, if this had been the issue, I might well agree.

But eGullet is a gastronomic forum, so it matters just how we eat our precious cod. I'd argue that by drying and salting, cod is made tastier, more durable, versatile and economic than if it were consumed fresh without further ado - though God knows how much I love the British and Irish way with battered cod - ideally fried in beef dripping - and chips, which quite a few places in Manhattan honour and replicate with great skill.

I also prefer canned anchovies - in which the Spanish are masters - to fresh anchovies and am hard put to choose between the pleasure of good mojama (dried salted tuna belly) and the best raw tuna sashimi, same as I prefer cured ham - whether Italian, French, Spanish or Portuguese - to the same leg of pork simply boiled or roasted.

Gastronomically, what's interesting is the myriad ways in which different cultures and individuals transform (or not) the raw materials, from the simplest smoked salmon to Ferran Adrià's breath-taking metamorphoses, never forgetting the seemingly simple but actually very complex Japanese way with what could grossly be considered raw fish but is, in fact, sashimi.

Ecologically, it's all the same. And very important: without this basic commonsensical care, there wouldn't be any raw fish to transform and elaborate on.

These numbers and percentages may seem boring - may indeed be boring, asola (I know I myself nodded off more than once) - but they're important to characterize different gastronomic cultures. Portugal is a poor country, though blessed with a rich coast (still) full of fish. Spain itself is relatively poor, compared to the EU average. Salt cod is now damned expensive - it's a treat - so it's ridiculous to say that half (50%) of what the Portuguese consume is in the form of salt cod. Hey, it's what's served on Christmas Eve!

I suppose you know that the European countries who love fish will - for political-ecological reasons (to negotiate quotas and what-have-you) - do their best to disguise the amounts of fish they consume and fish. In the same way, countries who are not nearly as in love with fish but have large coastal fishing grounds will exaggerate their fish consumption in order to justify their higher quotas, which they can export. Portugal and Spain are clearly the villains here, as they can't get enough. Whether it's fresh, canned, frozen, wild or farmed, they deservedly stand as greedy bastards. Both Portugal and Spain - whatever the cost - import most of their fish, they're that desperate for it.

Portugal's two biggest suppliers are Morocco and Mauritania - the first contracts were negotiated by my own father, when he was director-general of fisheries. He secretly negotiated - instructed by the then dictatorship - with the Polisario Front guerillas and, in the 60s, when the Cold War was hot, with Moscow. The Portuguese will do anything for their fish - and the Spanish are just as bad, er, good.

My boring efforts to reach a reliable figure for salt cod consumption in Portugal were intended to present a realistic figure which would take into account the general appetite for fish, whether imported or local, frozen or dried. Of course we eat an inordinate amount of salt cod - hence the 1001 ways of cooking it - but, if you exaggerate its consumption (already astronomical), you just further the false paradox of "How come a country with so much fresh fish at its disposal eats so much salt cod from thousands of miles away, which must be imported and paid for?" The awful (delicious!) truth is we love both.

Since Pedro allowed other statistics to be used, it's only honest to say that, in my estimation, based on privileged knowledge, I'd put salt cod consumption at between 25 and 30% of total seafood consumption.

I'd also like to add that, so far as I know, the FAO weighting is not based on the weight of salt cod after it's been soaked in water (wouldn't it be just great if 1 kilo of dried codfish would produce 3 kilos of ready-to-eat "bacalhau"? Just add water!) but on the weight of the whole codfish when landed and its subsequent weight after being gutted and dried. FAO doesn't care what you do with the fish - you could add lots of potatoes and onions and make 1 kilo into 7 kilos of "pastéis de bacalhau" or whatever - but on the oceanic cost in terms of depletion.

On a lighter note - what a relief - I'd like to remind all Spanish members of this board that they really should heed the recent heartfelt plea from their government that urges them to eat more fish already! I would have resisted if the brief article didn't seem to offer what appear to be interesting figures on seafood consumption in Spain.

P.S.

I'd be delighted as a fish-eater if Portugal were to become #2 or #4 or ideally #23 in fish consumption, as this would allow us to, well, eat more fish on the sly. It's not easy being #1 in fish-gobbling. With all eyes focused on dwindling wild fish stocks, how much easier it would be, even risking French culinary passions, being green like Kermit. Not to mention the added ecological advantage, of course. ;)


Edited by MiguelCardoso (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'd also like to add that, so far as I know, the FAO weighting is not based on the weight of salt cod after it's been soaked in water (wouldn't it be just great if 1 kilo of dried codfish would produce 3 kilos of ready-to-eat "bacalhau"?  Just add water!) but on the weight of the whole codfish when landed and its subsequent weight after being gutted and dried.

Thanks for the clarification, Miguel.

Since Pedro allowed other statistics to be used, it's only honest to say that, in my estimation, based on privileged knowledge, I'd put salt cod consumption at between 25 and 30% of total seafood consumption.

Good. It seems that your information pretty much coincides with the rough estimate I made based on data from the DGPA.

PS: Everytime that we discuss figures and statistics, the sentence "according to the statistics, the statistics lie" comes to my mind.


PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tried, I tried...to read all the 'serious' parts of this thread...but the entire time I was reading...all I could think of was pasteis de bacalhau.... :wub:


Those who forget the pasta are condemned to reheat it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By thecuriousone
      Hi All-
      I tried a recipe out of The good cook, James and Jellies over the weekend. It is a bitter orange, lemon and watermelon Jam. Actually its more like a marmalade. The recipe went together easily, but a curious thing happened while I was cooking it. The recipe said to add 3 cups of sugar for each 4 cups of fruit and simmer slowly for 1 hour. I did that but at the end of the hour, the consistency still seemed thin. My first though was to reduce it further. I pulled some out of the pot to taste and continued to reduce. I never did get to a really jelled consistency, however the taste started to change, it lost the fresh watermelon flavor and took on almost a "tea taste" like the sugars in the watermelon had carmelized. It doesnt taste bad but should I have taken another approach? I'm not familiar enough with sure gel to use it if its not called for in a recipe.
      Any help would be appreciated. Its a beautiful jam, I would just like to maintain the fresh watermelon taste and have it thicker.
    • By Prawncrackers
      Hola egulleters! Those of you who know me know that I like to turn my hand at Charcuterie now and then. Nothing is more satisfying than breaking down a whole pig and turning it into delicious cured meats and sausages. I'm quite happy making a wide range of products but there's one thing that I just can't get right. Fresh Spanish cooking chorizo, in particular I want to try and recreate this wonderful stuff from Brindisa http://www.brindisa.com/store/fresh-chorizo-and-morcilla/all-fresh-chorizo-and-morcilla/brindisa-chorizo-picante/
      They're wonderfully red, juicy and packed with deep pimenton flavour. Now when I make them I can get the flavour right but the texture is all wrong, very mealy, not at all juicy and the colour loses it's vibrancy too easily. What's the secret to them I wonder? Some kind of additive and/or food colouring?
      My recipe sees me mincing 2.3 kg fatty pork shoulder through a fine die, mixing with 80g pimenton, 50g salt, 30g sugar, 35g fresh garlic and stuffing into sheep casings. Here's a photo of them:

      I rest them overnight in the fridge before cooking with them. Maybe I should be putting some curing salt in there and hanging them for a couple of days? Does anyone have any experience making this kind of juicy fresh Spanish chorizo or even chistorra?
    • By milla
      For mid-May in all categories.
    • By riceman
      Dear friends,
      I would like to list here clever gastronomic proposals out of the ordinary to innovate in the kitchen. As an initial example propose our own proposal of cooking our homegrown rice to make our paellas in "El Sequer de Tonica", Spain.

      Who said that everything is invented in the field of gastronomy. I wait for your suggestions!!

      Cheers,
    • By Virbonus
      We've just come from 4 days in Madrid and an evening in Toledo. In Madrid we ate at Casa Salvador where my wife's oxtails were superb but I can only rate the flavor of my tripe as good, though it was cooked perfectly. I thought Barbara was going to swoon over the roasted marrow bone and beef at Sacha. She started with a fresh tomato salad in a very light balsamic vinaigrette that was perfection. I had the fried artichokes - paper thin slices of baby artichokes fried in olive oil that had the texture of potato chips but were pure artichoke flavor. I followed that with brains that were superb - lightly battered and fried, slightly crunchy on the outside, milky soft inside. Barbara had a chocolate thing for desert and she flipped. I had something akin to creme caramel, but I have no idea what it was, other than outrageously good. I think it had cielo in the name, but since I asked the maitre d' to just pick out deserts for us I'm not sure what we had.
      Then on Tuesday we went to David Muñoz's Diverxo. Extraordinary. And that's saying something because we got off to a really bad start. Twenty minutes to get a glass of wine ordered from the time we were seated. Then, when asked if I'd like chopsticks to which I replied in the affirmative, none ever arrived, but the food transcended all. An amuse bouche of edamame seasoned, perhaps with sumac and something else with a buttermilk-like garlic dipping sauce. Then we both had the seven course tasting menu (the other choice being the thirteen course menu). The seven courses were actually around eleven since a course would often be divided into two halves served sequentially, like the poached prawn (it was called something else) that arrived followed by the grilled, seasoned, head and body with the juices from the body drizzled over the poached tail. Somewhere in the middle were white asparagus wrapped in the skin of red mullet - actually the meal involved parts of red mullet in several of the dishes, such as a pate of red mullet liver on a thin crisp. The courses that I sort of remember include the soup served in a young coconut shell where eating the coconut meat was a desired part of the experience, a steamed roll with a quail's egg yolk barely poached on top, an extraordinary piece of tuna cheek that tasted like a sous-vide cooked short rib, and a piece of ox cheek that had been slow roasted for 112 hours, a small piece of hake served sauced accompanied by a horseradish cream and spherified lime, and a desert which I no longer remember. Very, very highly recommended.
      Yesterday, we made our way to Toledo, where completely by chance we went for lunch to Adolfo. It turns out that the chef, Adolfo Muñoz, is David Muñoz's uncle. And he cooks like it. Not modernist, but brilliantly. Barbara had a simple "small" salad ordered off the menu which was beautiful and then a scallops and artichokes starter with fresh baby artichokes and incredibly dense scallops barely accented with maldon salt flakes that were perfect. I had a risotto of black rice cooked with squid ink and baby calamari and manchego cheese that was off the charts followed by red partridge that was excellent, but paled in comparison to the risotto. Excellent.
      Now we're off to Lisbon.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...