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Say Yes to the Fish

February 9, 2015

My life is starting to sound like The Very Hungry Caterpillar. On Friday, he ate through fifteen donuts. On Saturday, he ate through five tavern pies. On Sunday, he ate a vegan dinner, and after that he felt much better.

The donuts may be coming to an end soon, but the party continues. Wednesday there is a new restaurant opening up in Glenmont. The thing that caught my eye about the event was that at six o’clock there was going to be a whole bluefin tuna carving ceremony.

Bluefin tuna is one of the world’s great gastronomical delights. I would love to see how it gets carved, and maybe eat a slice of its belly (o-toro).

But then something crazy happened. I was actually invited to actually do the carving.

Presumably, I’ll only be making a token incision and getting out of the way so that the professional can take over. But it kind of reminds me of the time that I was able to go behind the cheese counter and split a wheel of parm-reg.

For a food lover, these kinds of things are the memories you hold for a lifetime.

Usually I do not actively seek out bluefin tuna because the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch tells me to avoid it. On the other hand, even Michael Pollan, the pillar of sustainable food, has been seen enjoying the stuff.

But it does make me think about the difficult balance between being a lover of food and a lover of the environment. And is it okay to have just a nibble of something that may not be around for future generations? Or what if the veal is tortured just a little bit? Or what about something completely over the top like ortolan?

And I have to admit that as much as I endorse happy meat, if someone were to offer me an ortolan…I could not say no.

Perhaps the key consideration here is eating what you eat with the full knowledge of its larger impact. That helps to make it even that much more special, as it is an increasingly rare treat. Or, maybe it just means that I’m a terrible person who will throw his values out the window for a tasty scrap of meat.

However, nobody made any claims that food lovers were good people. Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins. And vegans stand aghast at what goes on in the name of our culinary pleasure.

Of course, in more recent years, food lovers have been promoting a kinder, gentler treatment of animals. So we can’t be all that bad. Even if we smuggle in illegal cheese, throw living creatures into pots of boiling water, and eat fish we’ve been told to avoid.

I said yes to the fish.

The name of the place is Akira, and it’s a modern Japanese sushi and Hibachi restaurant. Yes, I know there’s a saturated market for these things, but how many of the other places cut up a bluefin tuna on opening day?

Akira will open its doors to the public at 5 pm on Wednesday, February 11, in Glenmont, NY. The restaurant is offering a free 3 course meal to its first 50 customers and a free appetizer to the next 100 customers. They are located at 385 Route 9W in Glenmont, NY, 12077 and you can check out the menu and other details online or get in touch via twitter.

The bluefin tuna carving ceremony starts at 6pm. Hope to see you there.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. albanylandlord permalink
    February 10, 2015 10:52 pm

    I am surprised you think you would eat Ortolan if given the chance… That would be way over the line for me – so endangered it is illegal to eat it. If everyone felt that way (just once to try it) it would wipe out the rest of the species. By that logic it is OK to buy Rhino horns or elephant tusks and participate in wiping out those species also. Illegal is illegal.

    Bluefin is a harder call. If I felt it was likely that the fish was caught illegally (Lots of Bluefin is) I wouldn’t eat it. If it was likely to be legally fished I would try it or have it very occasionally – no more than that as the species is overfished.

    I love shopping at Fin so that I can rely on them to figure this stuff out for me…

    • February 11, 2015 1:34 am

      Just to parse my statement, I said “if offered.” That means I wouldn’t seek it out, just like I haven’t sought out bluefin tuna.

      Yes, if everyone said they would just try [insert endangered animal] once, it would doom the species. But that’s not what I’m saying. The chances of me ever being offered Ortolan are almost certainly nil. I was using the example mostly as a thought experiment.

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