An award-winning food journalist brilliantly dissects the relationship between humans and the four fish that dominate the seafood market.
Greenberg (Leaving Katya, 2002) addresses how nations can make smarter choices about managing resources and how the individual seafood-lover can support those choices at the dinner table, but he also examines a series of smaller issues: how farmed salmon—an industry badly in need of reform—has inspired a taste for its wild ancestor, why tilapia has suddenly shown up in the market, how the rage for sushi poses new regulatory challenges, why taming sea bass makes little sense. This readable account of our hunt for wild fish and our attempt to domesticate them for consumption will remind many readers of Mark Kurlansky’s bestseller Cod (1997), and for good reason. Kurlansky is cited as an authority and even appears as a character in Greenberg’s fish story, a pleasing amalgam of memoir, travelogue, history, scientific inquiry, plea for reform and even tasting menu. In colorfully anecdotal, appealing prose, Greenberg focuses on our pursuit of salmon, sea bass, cod and tuna. Each represents an evolutionary step for humans farther out into the ocean. Taken together, they recapitulate humankind’s historic attempt at mastery of the sea, “either through the management of a wild system, through the domestication and farming of individual species, or through the outright substitution of one species for another.” The author offers prescriptions for managing marine ecosystems and a wise set of principles to guide us forward with domestication, but the tone is never preachy. The narrative is grounded in common sense and anchored by first-rate, on-scene reporting from the Yukon and Mekong Rivers, Lake Bardawil in the Sinai Peninsula and the waters off the coasts of Long Island, Greece, Hawaii and the Shetland Islands.
Hugely informative, sincere and infectiously curious and enthusiastic.