Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Whale Meat and Other Notes

Yesterday, an article in Time Magazine had me revisiting the subject of whale meat for the first time in years. Speaking from both heart and mind, I'm passionate about preserving marine species around the world that are being threatened by overfishing. It is a much bigger problem than most people realize. Back in the mid-sixties, however, such concerns were quite removed from the public awareness.So, in 1965, I purchased a package of frozen whale meat from---you may not believe this--- the Safeway, namely what was then known as the "International Safeway" in Washington, DC. I cooked it "au poivre" and quite enjoyed it. The meat was a bit gamey, essentially fat-free, and wonderful. For the latest on the subject of whale meat, go to
http://www.time.com/time/globalbusiness/article/0,9171,1184070,00.html
Of course, whaling is definitive to the culture of certain peoples, most of whom you would expect to be the last to exploit to endangerment a resource so precious to them. I particularly support the manner in which the whaling tradition endures in the St. Vincent Grenadines on the island of Bequia. For more on this , go here: http://www.sptimes.com/2002/08/11/Travel/A_man__a_harpoon_and_.shtml

I've been to Bequia. It's a wonderful place to visit---small, unspoiled, easily navigable, and with just about everything that the majority of visitors to the Caribbean might want. On a return trip, I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to enjoy a whale steak, but doubt it would be available.

If it were, however, the experience could never match the spectacle of the three enormous whales about 100 yards offshore that leapt completely out of the water in unison before me one autumn morning in 1992 on a nearly deserted beach south of Dewey Beach Delaware. I was walking and continued walking after observing the whales. Ten minutes later, these three whales again leapt from the water in unison in front of me. Apparently they had swam the same distance I had walked. Ten minutes and a half-mile or so further down the beach, the performance was repeated. It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life.

"Whales" is a term that's used locally as a synonym for large soft crabs. Last night, Mrs. Yi and I enjoyed the first of the season here in Baltimore at Charleston Restaurant. It wasn't a "whale." For a soft crab, it was quite tiny; but one bite confirmed it'd been alive within the hour. Another selection on the tasting menu, which is the format at Charleston, was Carolina Squab. The portion was but a portion cut from one side of the breast. It was delicious, garnished, and properly cooked medium rare. This is the first time in years---if ever---I've seen squab on a menu in Baltimore. It would be great if this could prove to be the beginning of a trend.

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