Hooked: Pirates, Poaching, and the Perfect Fish
Has anyone read this yet? I heard an interview with the writer over the weekend and went to the book store and picked up a copy. Sat up until about 1 reading last night and hit a little bit of it today, probably finish it tonight. So far it is a very interesting story, at times it stumbles with a clunky phrase or two or by trying to create more of a drama than a fish story may be able to provide, but a fun and brisk read all the same. Anyone else read this yet?
For those who don't know what I am talking about "Hooked: Pirates, Poaching, and the Perfect Fish" is about the rise of Chilean Sea Bass in American cooking and the devastation increased demand had on this slow to reproduce fish. Oh yeah, there are pirate fishing boats, high seas adventure and a lot of insight into how foods gain acceptance in our country. There is plenty of food talk too. A fun read.
If anyone is interested, here is a brief review i wrote of a an area entertainment blog:
Hooked: Pirates, Poaching and The Perfect Fish
by G. Bruce Knecht
Who doesn’t like a Fish Story? They are the model of believability stretched to its upmost, the kingdom of the crazy uncle and occasionally a really, really good yarn. Hooked: Pirates, Poaching and The Perfect Fish falls into the later category. Bruce Knecht, a regular contributer to The Wall Street Journal and an avid sailor, inter-splices two narratives. One follows the popularization of a previously ignored and uneaten fish properly known as the Patagonian Toothfish but gastronomically renamed Chilean Seabass. The alternating story is a high seas romp detailing one of the longest ocean chases in modern history. The action pitches a group of wily but under-resourced Australian Fisheries enforcement officers against an equally intrepid pack of pirates. Fish pirates, that is, who poach millions of dollars worth of the moist and white skinned Toothfish from rough Antarctic waters around Australia’s outlying territories.
Hooked is a punchy read and a great way to pass of few of our diminishing summer days. The book has enough charm to pull off the almost mismatched story lines. Hooked by turns explores the substitution of Toothfish (or Chilean Seabass, if you prefer) for Black Cod in venerable West Coast Cantonese dishes like “Steamed Fish with Black Bean and Ginger” and details the weaponry of a group of South African mercenaries tasked with boarding the pirate’s ship. Part of the pleasure of Hooked is this incongruous, Joy of Cooking meets Black Hawk Down tone.
Knecht has a point though. He wants the reader to understand the dramatic impact consumer demand is having on the often anonymous oceans. Patagonian Toothfish, once plentiful as little as 30 miles off the Chilean coast must now be sought in the iceberg locked waters around Antarctica. The slow growing Toothfish (it lives to 60 and must be 12 before it can reproduce) once provided tens of thousands of tons of fish but little more than a decade of aggressive fishing has rendered them “commercially extinct” in many of their typical habitats.
Hooked is a fast-paced adventure story, an examination of the maturing American palate during the end of the twentieth century and a plea for our often disregarded oceans. You may not be ready to “Take A Pass on Seabass” as some in the conservation community might like but Hooked asks important questions about the sources and consequences of the food we eat and it is the best fish story to come into print in a while.