At last Sunday’s Batch Made Market we tried something new, live fishing. The idea was simple: teach people how to catch, clean, and cook a fish from beginning to end. Along with all the classes we teach, the aim of the live fishing class was to provide the rare opportunity to observe, learn, and experience urban fishing.. It wasn’t something I’d ever seen anywhere else. Without a model to work off of, we decided to take a risk and try it out. We thought through the process, researched the fish, got the pool, and lined up a lifelong commercial fisherman to help guide the class. The response to the idea was overwhelming and the class sold out almost immediately.
While majority of responses were positive, I did get a few vocal concerns about the event that I’d like to address:
We came up with this idea as an attempt to show people the reality of what it means to catch and eat fish. Watching the entire process of killing and cooking an animal should enliven a respect and gratitude for the food we eat. Last Sunday we found that the fish were not interested in biting. This wasn’t a consequence of inhumane treatment. The fish were handled very gently. Freshly bought from a fishmonger down the block (incidentally, they had much more room to swim around in our pool than in their previous home) and placed into fresh water. After it became clear that it wasn’t going to plan, we cut it off, and decided to show folks how to filet, gut, and fry fish instead.
At forageSF our mission is first and foremost to support and educate people about the food they eat everyday. Sometimes that’s taking people out into nature to find it, sometimes that’s taking them into the kitchen to cook it, and sometimes that’s taking them into the dining room to eat it. It’s great when we can get people out into nature to see the reality of their food, but that isn’t always feasible. The people who came to our event came because they wanted to learn what it means to take a fish from live to cooked. As in all things we do, we created this event to take people one step closer to being comfortable obtaining and preparing delicious food. We will continue to search for innovative ways to bring fresh food to urban settings, and to hew to our mission of supporting a vibrant local society through the lens of great food.