The fish, unfortunately, is not all sold

When we talk about eating habits, it is easy to fall into a loop in which ignorance and the supposed lack of time or motivation are part of an operation that always ends up subtracting.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
16 March 2023 Thursday 00:58
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The fish, unfortunately, is not all sold

When we talk about eating habits, it is easy to fall into a loop in which ignorance and the supposed lack of time or motivation are part of an operation that always ends up subtracting. When we talk about eating fish, the rule is literally met and the problem is a fish that bites its tail: less is consumed every day, not to mention the young population (it is alarmingly rare in the homes of young couples with children small) and it is decided to buy very little variety of species. In the diet they are not included, generally due to sheer ignorance, some that are very affordable and often this consumption of seafood is relegated to the occasions when you eat away from home.

Salmon is pure trend. The Fundació Alícia ironically calls the phenomenon salmonitis. What accounts for this predilection? They themselves, who have analyzed in depth the evolution of fish and shellfish consumption, tell us that we tend to associate it with healthy diets. TY also that the fact that it is presented in comfortable portions, without bones and with an attractive pink color plays in its favor. But it is not the only thing for which he has everything to win. According to Amanda Barba, nutritionist for this foundation, "we must not forget that behind so many charms there is a huge Norwegian campaign to export it successfully. It is the firm commercial commitment of a country”.

Cod, one of the most demanded fresh fish, also comes from afar. And consuming what comes to us from remote shores does not contribute to guaranteeing the continuity of artisanal fishing, nor does buying and cooking at home following the law of minimum effort. As Fundació Alícia reminds us, a generational replacement is needed on board the boats, but also a generational replacement among some consumers who must be approached in order to adapt to their new habits and preferences while continuing to seek the path of sustainability.

This urgency surfaced in the third edition of Gastromar L'Ampolla, a small-format event with growing relevance that has had the support of renowned chefs, but also of the scientific community and those who live from the sea. At the event, organized by the City Council of l'Ampolla, Fundació Alícia and Repicat Sc, they talked about seafood cuisine but also about fishing, consumer trends or what happens in fishmongers and supermarkets. One of the main objectives was to address the problem of this drop in the consumption of fish and shellfish, despite the fact that catches have not decreased. In Catalonia they increased by 7% in 2022, but consumption has dropped by 20% in recent months and of the 200 species caught, 60% of consumption has focused on just 6.

Combining science and cooking, the conferences sought to find solutions to the alarming problem of a marine pantry in danger due to the lack of care for the sea and the low consumption of a product that a large part of the population associates with impossible prices. It is something that does not conform to reality, especially when looking beyond the five varieties that are usually used (cod, hake, fresh salmon on the podium) due to lack of knowledge and awareness.

The notable lineup of participants turned Terres de l'Ebre into a gastronomic focus from Sunday afternoon, when chef Jeroni Castell (Les Moles) cooked oysters from the Delta and Oriol Balaguer interpreted this culinary jewel in a chocolate version (and gave away the l'Ampolla molds so that they can be replicated and turned into a sweet souvenir that is sold in pastry shops). On Monday, the official opening of the meeting was given by chef Paco Pérez, who, using seaweed as the common thread, cooked some of the most innovative dishes from his restaurant Miramar (Llançà) on stage.

They have passed through l'Ampolla Carlota Claver, from La Gormanda (Barcelona), Xavier Pellicer, the partners of Slow from Barcelona

There were recipes and there was a scientific look at those worrying consumption habits that the Fundació Alícia analyzed, seeking a dialogue between gastronomy, biology, culture and culinary tradition, anthropology and sustainable fishing. Some of the members of the Associació Catalana de Dones del Mar also cooked on stage on Monday: a whole lesson in cooking, experiences and commitment to the sea. It was a talk full of complicity between experts who also recalled the relevant role of women in the fight to save the sea and promote the sustainable consumption of its wealth.

Fishermen and fishmongers recalled that specialized stores are less and less frequented because the little fish that is bought is usually found (who knows from what coasts) on the supermarket shelves where it is filleted and sliced, when not ready to heat. And, accompanied by the team of experts from the Fundació Alícia, they opened a long debate in search of solutions to sell more, as well as to give continuity and visibility to their valuable work.