Slow Fish in Action
A Taste of Fish and European Policies in Barcelona
Slow Food Barcelona brought gastronomes, cooks, fishers and activists together for a "catch of the day" dinner.
Forty pairs of hungry eyes attentively followed artisan fisherman Ramon Tarridas as he unfolded his miniature nets in the packed restaurant of Lluerna, in Barcelona (June 11, 2012).
"I didn't bring my powerpoint presentation, but maybe this will do," he told the amused diners gathered at the local Slow Fish event organized by Slow Food Barcelona, as part of the European Fish week campaign on overfishing led by Ocean 2012.
Ramon showed examples of the artisanal fishing equipment used locally by small-scale fishers to catch about 90 species, while explaining how each was adapted to a specific species of bottom fish, rockfish, pelagic fish, or octopus. Each of these animals feed in different places, at different hours and on different food, which makes catching them an art of knowledge - since one type of bait and one piece of equipment can be used at a certain place at a certain hour, and not 20 meters away, or at a different time.
Small-scale fishers today are under the pressure of overregulated trade and degraded environment. Most policies are designed for industrial fishing, which also absorb most of European subsidies while severely depleting fish stocks worldwide and degrading marine habitat). In order to survive and keep his tradition alive, Ramon believes that the artisan fisher is now obliged to actively seek alliances and sell his fish directly to restaurants or consumers, bringing the freshest fish to consumers together with the whole story of the catch.
Lluerna's chef, Victor Quintillà is one of his allies. "I have a great relationship with Ramon, and I am happy to serve any fish he catches, even the unknown ones, which actually are unique and do interest curious clients. I invited Ramon and his family to dinner when we started working together, so that he could understand how the freshness of his product could be highlighted in the dishes I serve my customers. I try to do that with all the local producers I work with, and I am glad to be able to bring their stories as well as their products to my clients."
Lydia Chaparro and Miquel Ortega, from Ocean 2012, a coalition that includes Slow Food, gave an overview of the European fisheries situation, explaining why is it important for each one of us to ask our politicians to stop overfishing and promote small-scale sustainable fishers now, while they are designing the Common Fisheries Policy reform. They also took a photo of each participant, with a sign displaying their name, to be added to a civil society against overfishing gallery published on their site and sent to the European Parliament.
Participant went back home delighted and motivated to become fish seafood "coproducers", having learned a lot and tasted dishes of mackerel, mullet, and sea bream, among other delicious delicacies.