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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fishy Business Revealed

Source: The Wall Street Journal
When I was five, my family lived next door to an affable guy who owned a fish market on Water Street, the old Jewish commercial center in Worcester, Massachusetts. His wife was a bleached blonde and a chronic malcontent--often with him in the crosshairs. “Nathan—don’t come near me until you’ve showered,” was her ritual greeting to him after a fishy day’s work. He was a good provider; but she had higher aspirations, my father told me years later. And, added my father, she subscribed to one olfactory truth--that you could take Nathan out of the fish market but you’ll never take the fish market out of Nathan. How did he de-scent? A shower must have just been the beginning, my father speculated.

Those buried memories rose to the surface last week when I saw the artful cuts of salmonized graphics (see above) accompanying the Wall Street Journal’s March 2 feature, The Slippery Business of Picking Fish. What a paean to the salmon!—graphics that suggested salmon wall-plaques, salmon contra-dance skirts and the kindest cut of all—a salmonic likeness of the Green Mountain State. (So what if it’s Wild Pacific Salmon?)

The Mostest in Symbiosis. Salmon and Vermont, in fact, have coevolved in landlocked harmony even before Wig & Pen. Vermont salmon (Salmo salar) are genetically and physically identical to their Atlantic brethren—both are balletic leapers, spawn in streams, and migrate to open waters—the latter to the ocean and the former to Vermont’s lakes (Champlain, Dunmore, the Northern Lakes of the “Northeast Kingdom).  Click here for more than you want to know about Vermont’s landlocked salmon.

And how might a veteran fish monger best exorcise the smell of Vermont salmon or, for that matter, an entire fish market? There’s no silver bullet, remarked the proprietor of North Shore Seafood on King Street in Northampton, Massachusetts. “Throughout the day I use hand soap and lemon juice,” he confessed. “Of course I shower when I get home and use a bit of bleach on my clothes. One thing’s for sure: if I go out at night, it's not in clothes that I’ve worn at work--I do value what's left of my social life.”


Anonymous said...

Wasn't the issue of lingering fish odor dealt with in the great movie "Atlantic City" in which Susan Sarandon played the role of a fish restaurant employee?

Anonymous said...

I was expecting a reference to Salmon Rushdie!