Don’t be a pussy. You might be really missing out, you know. As we’ve journeyed across the world and delved deep into the local culture, we’ve encountered all sorts of incredible foods we previously didn’t even know could be eaten at all. And when it comes to seafood, we’ve discovered that people generally fall into one of four main schools of thought, and that these are often interestingly divided along geographical lines. Which one do you swim in?
- “I don’t eat fish.”
Not counting people genuinely (and tragically) allergic to seafood, what you really mean is “I’m scared of anything that has evolved to live in the substance that covers 70% of the earth’s surface and, in fact, makes up about that much of my own body too. Never mind oysters – you’re probably just not the adventurous type when it comes to food at all. And you’re really missing out.
- “I only eat white fish. As long as it’s not too fishy.”
Um, ok… Let’s just for a moment ignore the fact that fish is, by definition, fishy. You probably don’t mind fish and chips, but don’t venture much beyond this. Scared about the bones, maybe? It’s a pity, because there’s some wonderful stuff out there that is too small to fillet, or of a shape, size and texture not conducive to being sliced into perfect, white rectangles. And some of it might just blow your mind if you can bring yourself to live a little and try it…
- “I love seafood (but only the expensive stuff)”
You probably quite like the taste of a variety of seafood. I mean, a fish fillet with a nice sauce from that fashionable new celeb chef café/bistro and, while it might creep you out a little bit, certainly lobster too, right? You might even go for oysters and prawns too. Salty, creamy, fishy and 100% delish, of course. But hang on… You’re not big on sardines or smoked kippers. Octopus? Nah. And would you really attempt a two-dollar tilapia from a Thai street vendor (even if it was grilled whole to perfection with tantalising spices)? Wait a moment… you don’t really like seafood at all, do you..? Oh dear, you’re just suffering through the caviar for the prestige… You’re not a seafood snob, are you?
- “If it stays still long enough, I’ll eat it, especially if it has tentacles or spikes and even if it looks like snot, a tongue, or genitals. And sometimes, even if it’s not still at all but splashing, swimming, wriggling or squirming, it’s still dinner!”
You really have to go to Japan. Oh, wait – you’re from Japan, of course.
So you’ve probably realised by now that we’re being a bit silly. Palates are as diverse as the people on planet Earth and we’re not two to judge. We do, however, love our seafood and we’ve encountered an astounding variety of it on our travels. From the hugest of yellow-fin tuna caught that morning and displayed hanging from a tree by the side of the road in Kupang, Indonesia, to the tiniest, snail-like winkles expertly plucked from the mangroves by our indigenous guide in far north Queensland, Australia, to creamy caviar in deepest Siberia to the highly poisonous, but inexplicably popular fugu (or puffer fish) in Niigata, Japan.
All of it has been thrilling to taste and funnily enough, most of it has been delicious. The mangrove winkles were sweet, salty and succulent (pick the black ones with the white rims, by the way. The brown/olive ones are a bit bitter). Raw puffer fish is delicate and subtle. And we would never have known without having been there on the street in Kupang or ducking our heads into a sushi restaurant in Tokyo or squelching our toes in the mud in far north Queensland.
We came, we saw, we tasted, and we discovered something new, something delightful – new experiences to be savoured, and some new favourite flavours that we know to seek out next time. So don’t be scared. Even if it looks entirely unlike any food (or creature) you’ve ever seen before, as long as it’s a local’s thing (and it’s sanitary of course), give it a try. Don’t let your preconceptions stop you from your new adventures. You might be wonderfully surprised by what the world has on it’s dinner plate. After all, that’s the very quintessence of travel, boiled down like a lobster bisque. Drink it all in and let us know what seafood you discover.