I’m sure there are many people out there who think that one smoked fish tastes largely like another, and I suppose in a way they have a point. Of course, there are a myriad of other ways in which they’re probably wrong – but I’m not going into that now. So, if one fish does taste largely like another, why are people so insistent on only buying the ones they know about?
Think about it this way, there are a number of people out there who go out of their way to eat ‘exotic’ meats like snake, alligator and ostrich. It is a possibility that a large amount of people try these meats so that they can then waffle on about it at dinner parties: “Look at me, look at what I’ve endangered, please marvel in my brilliance and exemplary taste buds”. I may be guilty of indulging in a morsel of hyperbole there. But it was this attitude that killed off the dodo.
Oops, there I go again.
What I mean to say is that there is a strange dichotomy between meat and fish in terms of what many of us are willing to try. There are people I am personally acquainted with (I won’t go so far as to say friends) who have checklists of “meats to eat before you die”. Where’s their fish list, hmmm? There are lots of tasty fishes out there. Fish. Fishes. Fisheseses. Never mind.
I’m not saying that it’s wrong to try different things, I’m just trying to point out how people treat fish differently. I’m also not trying to say that this applies to all the people in the world, before anyone becomes unjustly offended. I’m sure you’ve tried all kinds of fish… Right?
Strangely, the consumption of fish also seems to be affected by aesthetics in a strange way. People only seem to want to eat the “pretty” fish, and by that I mean the ones that don’t have weird fins and tentacles on their faces, not the ones you keep in your aquarium. I’m not entirely sure how pretty a fish can really be, but I’m hoping you know what I mean. And again, it’s the total opposite for meat – with people balking at eating anything with a snuffly nose or big, doe like eyes.
But we turn our noses up at ugly fish. Curiouser and curiouser, said Alice. Not that she should be any kind of judge after eating all those dubious mushrooms.
You may wonder what triggered a normally sane person, such as myself, to start thinking about how the aesthetics of a fish’s face affects whether people will eat it or not, well it has something to do with the picture up there. Go on, scroll back up and take a good look – I’ll wait here.
Back? Excellent. Ok, so I love smoked fish, it’s been a favourite since I was very young… In my quest for quick and simple food I thought that grilled fish and vegetables with fresh basil and lemon would be a perfect way of being able to put supper on, go and do things, and come back later. I was right about that, but that’s not the point.
Whilst looking for some smoked fish in a large retailer (before I discovered the wondrous Lidl) I had a minor shock. Smoked haddock is incredibly expensive for what you get. Pfft, I thought to myself, I’m not paying that…
Then I found the River Cobbler, which is available both smoked and unsmoked. I’d never heard of it before, but it looked appetising enough and it was 2 pounds for 2 fillets which, as you saw in the picture, are rather large!
I was amazed and bought them without delay, making them my star purchase for the week. Yes, I really am that person.
After eating this delicious, smoky, meaty, fishy fish of deliciousness (too much?) I decided to see if there were any recipes I was missing out on and looked it up on Google. I’m sorry, I just can’t bring myself to use Google as a verb, much like the word party.
Anyways, it turns out River Cobbler is the English term for Vietnamese catfish, and boy, is that an ugly fish. There were so many people online saying how they could never bring themselves to eat something so ugly, and so this little known fish is getting bad press based on its looks. It’s the Susan Boyle of the fish world. I don’t think that’s particularly fair, and I’m sure you don’t either now.
So, I urge you all to widen your fish horizons and try River Cobbler. It’s a cheaper alternative to haddock, and I’m pretty sure it has a better taste. I’m going to be visiting my parents soon, and they’ll be trying my new recipe for River Cobbler risotto, and they have to enjoy it, because I’ll sulk otherwise. I’m kidding, of course.
And dinner parties will never be the same – because I can guarantee that while people are waxing lyrical about their bison burgers, you’ll be the only person with a River Cobbler under their belt.
Please don’t actually put one under your belt though, you won’t be invited back if you do, and you’ll probably start attracting cats on your way home.