One of the most complex choices for a good, clean and fair shopping basket is fish, and with a handful of internationally known species dominating the market – often farmed or fished unsustainably – most of us no longer know what’s good to eat from local waters. To highlight some of the more unusual and lesser-known fish and small-scale fishers in the Slow Food network, a number of Terra Madre Day events this December 10 made them the focus of their community celebrations of eating locally.
Among these events, Slow Food Sharplaninska organized a fieldtrip for secondary students to Lake Dojran in southeastern Macedonia to witness the rare method of Fishing with Cormorants still practiced there. With minimum disturbance to the shallow-lake ecosystem, the fishermen erect partitions called mandri on the water, and rely on the cormorants to help drive fish into these reed traps. More common in Japan and China, fishing with cormorants is dying out around the world, and has always been rare in Europe. The convivium hopes to have the fishermen’s product included on the Slow Food Ark of Taste soon.
In a country where fish is one of the most important local resources, but the small fishermen are struggling to maintain a livelihood, Estonia’s Tallin Convivium dedicating their Terra Madre Day celebration to Putting the Fishermen First! Located on Saaremaa Island, the second biggest island in the Baltic sea, members came together with fishermen to smoke flounder and prepare various traditional dishes from fresh and dried fish. The convivium has been supporting the fishermen through production and hygiene training courses for some time, hoping to ensure that their work and culture survives into the next generation.
In London, Moshi Moshi restaurant invited fish eaters to the Discovering Dogfish event, promoting this Cornish product that was introduced to them by a local Terra Madre fishing community. The lesser spotted dogfish was once so unpopular as an eating fish that is was primarily used as bait. However, with its dense texture and particularly fresh taste, it has been re-discovered as a great alternative to eel, which is now on the list of endangered species. British chefs are celebrating it as a fantastic local ingredient, and on Terra Madre Day Moshi cooks served Dogfish temaki handrolls for a donation towards Slow Food projects.
American Slow Food members met in various cities along the far northwest coast in workshops to Preserve Fish for the Future - all-day ‘canning parties’ to learn the art of conserving fish. The season’s harvest of albacore tuna (thunnus alalunga) – line-caught fish from a fishery certified by the Marine Stewardship Council and a 'Best Choice' with the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch list - was packed in jars using an old Breton recipe. Meanwhile in Nigeria, the Slow Food convivium in Ogun State organized the Preserving Local Fish Workshop, with fishermen teaching traditional methods of smoking cat fish as a way to pass on knowledge, food traditions and tastes.
Finally, the Meeting of Fishers from the Yucatan Peninsula was held on Isla Mujeres in southern Mexico, bringing together three different fishing cooperatives to build a local network of small-scale fishing. Fishermen and fish farmers from the Granjas Marinas Isla Mujeres, Molluscos del Mayab and Celestun Bioshphere Reserve cooperatives shared their experiences and discussed Slow Food principles, with a particular focus on sustainable fish farming of local species.
Click here for more stories and photographs from the events that took place on Terra Madre Day
For more information on Slow Food’s Slow Fish campaign: www.slowfood.com/slowfish