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Who needs a traditional fishmonger?
1st September, 2004
Lying on tilted beds of glistening ice, fish from around the world gaze unblinkingly at bored supermarket shoppers. Red snappers, ‘air freighted for freshness’ from the Indian Ocean; Chilean seabass ‘previously frozen’ from the Southern Atlantic; Farmed salmon from the Isles of Scotland; exotic, seemingly abundant fresh fish.‘When I walk into a supermarket with a fish counter I can just tell by the smell alone that the fish is not fresh by my standards, and the look only confirms that,’ one experienced fishmonger told me. He explained that fish auctions use various grades for supplies of wild fish, such as haddock, cod and whiting. The fish are graded not by size, but by age: the freshest fish command the highest prices. ‘The supermarkets buy the poorer quality fish, because they consider the best fish is too expensive. The reason why many of their fillets often contain bones is because they like to buy ‘‘block’’ fish; that’s cheaper fish that have been filleted at speed. It’s hard to see why supermarkets buy fish from all over the world to sell fresh when they can’t even sell fish from the UK fresh,’ he remarked.
Rex Goldsmith is an enthusiastic, young fishmonger from Surrey. He gave me an insight into the difference between fish from the independent fish trade and that from supermarkets. ‘I drum into my assistant, ‘‘if you wouldn’t buy it, don’t sell it’’. I always go for quality,’ he told me. On a sunny spring day, the...
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