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Pilgrims and Eels-NYT

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http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/25/opi...

The pilgrims ate Unagi? Who knew!

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  1. Eels would have been very familiar food to people from northern Europe. They were, and are, popular in England and all the coastal countries of the North Sea.

    The question is, why aren't they a more popular food with Americans now?

    2 Replies
    1. re: 512window

      Because they're slimy?

      1. re: 512window

        It's not so much the slime, unless you catch them yourself, since if you buy them at market you can/will have them skinned (highly recommended). The problem is that they look like snakes, not fish.

        Growing up on the Long Island waterfront, we set eel traps all the time, as well as buying them smoked from the local fish market all the time. Trust me - "slimy" is an understatement. When line-fishing, there was nothing worse than getting an eel on your line, as it would ride & twist up the fishing line as it was pulled out of the water. Used to really irk my dad since he would have to just cut the line & drop the eel, line & all, into a bucket; then re-hook the line, etc. Plus he'd then have to untangle & skin the darn thing once we got home - lol!! But freshly-caught eel sauteed in butter with fresh herbs & lemon juice - mmmm, that was some good eating.

        Unfortunately, mental pictures took away my love for eel. During one of my early secretarial jobs, a much older co-worker & I were discussing local fishing, & he mentioned that he stopped fishing for & eating eels after coming across a dead horse on the shore of NY's East River during his childhood, giving it a kick, & seeing about 50 eels scoot out of it's body.

        That killed it for me, & I've never been able to eat eel since outside of the occasional sushi tidbit.

      2. They have eel farms in Northern Ireland but they are all exported; none of the locals eat them. Clueless Irish. ;-)