Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fresh Fish

Ok, now my daughter lived in Japan where they have the largest seafood market in the world. I admit, it's not the Tokyo Fish Market, but El Campello has its own fish auction and we went today, found it, and came home with a “denton.” We had no idea what it was, but it at least resembled a fish we could recognize. The fellow at the cash register gave us instructions for how to cook it in the oven on a bed of potatoes, onions, olive oil and white wine. We shall see how it turns out.

In the information on the apartment, it said there was a local fish auction where you could get fresh fish daily, and we were anxious to give it a try. However, since we arrived on a Saturday the weather has been too windy for the fishermen to go out, today was the first day the auction was open. I walked down earlier and located the building holding the auction, and wandered around the dock looking at the fishing boats.

The auction starts at 6:15 each day, and I went down early to scope the place out. I was a bit worried because there were only two cars in the lot, and no one around. As I wandered down the dock, I could see a flock of seagulls out to sea, and sure enough under the cloud of wings was a boat steadily making for port. As the boat came through the narrows and slipped up to the wharf, people started to gather. I wondered if somehow the auction took place on the wharf, but no, everyone was just wanting to get a sneak peek of the catch before it was brought in to the auction house. The boat was tied up and the crew started washing and sorting their catch. They had quite a variety of species. I saw fish, squid, octopus, crayfish, and other items I did not recognize. There was a lot of discussion going on amongst the gathered crowd, but unfortunately for me it was all in Spanish, so I did not pick up any hints as to what was good or bad.

All the catch was loaded onto trays, and then into a van which drove to the actual auction building -  with the crowd moving as well. There was a wait while everything was weighed and displayed and as we waited. The various seafood was brought out and displayed on a long table with little hand-written labels telling how much it weighed. It was obvious that this auction was not aimed at big buyers, as most of the items were displayed in batches of between 1 kg to 1.5 kg. This was obviously aimed at individual buyers or small restaurants.

By the time the table was covered with fish, there was a considerable crowd gathered and it was obvious that some people were here to get particular items. There were hushed discussions between husbands & wives or groups of young men as well a pair of Asian men that carried on until the auctioneer came out and went into a detailed exclamation about how the auction was going to work. Well, at least this is what I assumed he was doing; it was all in Spanish, and I got that everything was priced by the kilogram, but not much else. 

I was interested in watching the auction, but I was not planning to bid on any fish.  However I told my son that since he was the seafood expert that it was his job to get a fish for supper. There were a few leftovers in the fridge, so if he couldn't figure it out we wouldn't go hungry.

It actually worked pretty well. There is a minimum price they will sell the product for, so we just waited and watched. The people who wanted something special threw their hands up when the price reached something they could live with, but we just waited until they moved the fish that didn't sell to the other end of the table and then went down picked out one and paid for it. I hope it tastes good, but at least I know it is fresh.

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