From Loving Fish, This Time With the Fish in Mind
I learned about buying sea creatures in the late ’70s at the sides of two old-time New Haven fishmongers who ran competing markets with differing styles. One brought in every fish he could find, mostly by going (or sending his help) to the Fulton Fish Market, Boston and Point Judith, R.I.
The other relied more on the trucks that worked the East Coast, going from fleet to fleet and market to market: A driver would start in Portland, Me., for example, with lobsters and scallops, and drive to Boston, where he might drop off lobsters and pick up cod and quahogs, then move on to Providence or Point Judith, where he would drop off whatever was in demand and load squid and swordfish. In New Haven he might find flounder. From there, he would hit New York, Cape May, Maryland, right down to Virginia or even Georgia or Florida. Then, his northern load diminished, his southern load — pompano, porgies, spots, snapper — in full supply, he would reverse the trip.
This makes me nostalgic. I may have missed out on the nickel-a-flounder days in New Haven, but I got to shop, learn about and cook fish at a time when my selections were varied and mostly local.
I find myself wanting to go along for the ride, to watch the season change with latitude, and watch the plants change, and the birds, and fish, and the accents of the working people on the east coast of the United States. (I live in California and grew up on the west coast. Accents?)
I know the "good old days" weren't always good at all -- DDT and women who felt trapped at home and kids with special needs who were marginalized and hawks shot for fun in New Jersey. And I love the internet, and air travel, and learning about and loving the whole world. But maybe we don't spend enough time moving slowly on the ground, and getting to know a small area well, and eating the food, and listening to people talk who work there, and live there, and feel the joy and the pain of the land and sea right through their shoes.
(I read the caption that accompanies this photo after I chose the photo for this post. Oh. See, these things also should be remembered.)