Something Fishy
Heather Manske

Last night I came across an interesting article in New York Magazine. After reading the cover story about the insanity of celebrity culture, I turned the page to learn about the relative insanity of the New York City fish trade.

This article talked about the fish suppliers to New York restaurants and city markets and how the business works. It candidly informed me that I, the grocery store consumer and home chef, am basically getting the bottom-of-the-barrel, old, terrible fish that a chef — a real chef – wouldn’t dare touch.

It got me thinking about the (farmed) salmon we grilled the other night and it made me realize I will never experience these amazingly fresh, still-flopping-on-the-way-to-your-table fish described in the article (because they are reserved only for the elite, by way of the fish suppliers and top chefs.) Which I could be OK with except that the chefs interviewed for the article seemed to think that anything else is subpar and practically inedible. Basically, they are saying if you can’t have the top-of-the-line, Ivy League fish, why bother?

If I learned one thing from this article, it’s that I will never have access to truly remarkable fish unless I splurge on a ridiculously-priced meal at one of these chefs’ restaurants. The only saving grace for us mere mortals, apparently, is buying from a big-name fish market like Citarella or Wild Edibles. Though we live across the street from Citarella, we’ve often avoided it and purchased fish at Fairway next door. The fish is cheaper there and we’ve always thought it tasted great. Now, I’m not so sure.

Have we been eating savvier New Yorkers’ castoffs all this time? Is the cute orange and white bag from Citarella and the inflated price truly worth it? Do I have it in me to be a true fish snob?

I’ve decided I must find out.

(To be continued after a Citarella vs. Grocery Store taste test.)