Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Oh So Blue...

About a week or so ago I met my friend Pam for lunch. This is a frequent occurrence, she works in the part of the Financial district that borders both Chinatown and South Street Seaport. Mostly we look for a good lunch special in Chinatown, but with Summer in full swing and my new found discipline to diet I suggested we go somewhere lighter, maybe someplace that might serve salad. So instead of heading to Chinatown we went to the South Street Seaport to see what we could find, after much deliberating we decided to go for Japanese food at Suteishi.

The place is cool, modern, in a fairly generic way and it's packed with the businessman lunch crowd. No $5.99 lunch specials here. After much deliberation we decide to have a green salad, one roll, eel and avocado, a few pieces of sustainable Sashimi and a big bowl of a spicy cabbage and tofu soup. The service was glacially slow. With each dish the waitress giggled, in her oddly artificial, whined-up doll, high pitched voice, placed the food down and apologized for how long it took to bring to us. Lunch took 90 minutes, it took over an hour to get our soup. The food was all great, no complaints and I love spending time with Pam, but if it was indeed a business lunch and I had to get back to doing business I wouldn't have been happy. Instead it was something else that made me mad, way madder than the slow kitchen, it was the preponderance of Blue Fin Tuna on the menu. At the end of the meal with the check was a comment card, I wrote in my best bold letter printing: BLUE FIN TUNA IS NEARLY EXTINCT SERVING IT IS WRONG.
Somehow, in my mind, contributing to the extinction of a species isn't something one should do casually by mindlessly ordering expensive lunch.

To my mind Blue Fin Tuna should not be an menu option at all.

So, OK, some crazy ass high end sushi place has blue fin on the menu. So does celebrity hang out Nobu and even all the famous people who eat there can't seem to convince Chef Nobu Matsuhisa to take it off the menu. His idea of a compromise was to put an asterisk next to the blue fin tuna with a note that says "environmentally challenged".

Why not: "Eat it now before it doesn't exist any more" ?

Maguro or Toro is how Blue Fin Tuna is referred to in Sushi restaurants, so a lot of people wouldn't know that they were eating Blue Fin unless they asked: What kind of Tuna is this?

And seemingly a lot of people don't want to ask, aren't aware they should ask or don't care.

I care.

Anyway, I more or less forget about this lunch and am walking around in the East Village and pass by Desnuda this wine bar/cevicheria that I have been wanting to go to for months and over gay pride weekend was telling my friends Jorge and Patrick we had to go to. When I get home I check out their website and click on Menu and there it is, item number cinqo:

Ceviche de Atun :
Bluefin Tuna with lemon,, espellete oil cured Moroccan olives, bell pepper, artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, & avocado 18

I like the placement of this dramatic picture interrupting the narrative, it's kind of like scary music to emphasize something bad is going to happen: da da da dummmmmm.

Sadly the bad thing that's going to happen isn't that these restaurateurs are going to stop serving Blue Fin, or that lots of their patrons are going to complain and stop coming until they stop serving it. Nope, the bad thing that is going to happen is that in a few years time there simply will be no more Blue Fin Tuna so these places will just have to serve some other endangered species until we wipe it off the face of the planet.

The saddest thing about all of this is that it doesn't have to be. There are lots of other delicious, sustainable fish to make into Sushi or to make a ceviche out of. Certainly these restaurants aren't unique, they just represent a bigger problem. People need to be made aware that if we keep killing Blue Fin Tuna it will very soon (some say next year) no longer swim in our seas. All they need is a break, 5 years maybe a little more to recoup, so we can once again start to fish them again, only next time we need to do so in a far more responsible way.

Is that too much to ask
?

Apparently yes. So I am recruiting you dear Urban Food Guy reader and giving you a challenge: the next time you are in a restaurant and you see blue fin tuna on the menu, very nicely tell them they shouldn't serve it and tell them why. Then tell them you won't eat there again until you see it off the menu.

Simple.

Below is the trailer for a devastating movie called End Of The Line which I'm re-posting.
For more information on Blue Fin Tuna:Oceans, Montereybayaquarium, Greenpeace, NRDC, The New York Times, Scientific America, Christian Science Monitor
and it goes on and on and on I could make an entire page, but this should get you started.




1 comment:

Kurt Brown said...

* raises hand *

I'll do it!

(when I can afford to eat out again)

Yay Mark!

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