Culinary Histories – The Seafood


By Tahira

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The culinary enthusiast that I am, my life almost revolves around food. Even if I am not concocting up yet another delicacy in the kitchen, I either end up reading recipes or books on the history of food. Since I am a hard-core non-vegetarian, nothing really misses out from my platter. So this time, I thought of indulging in some research work about Seafood (I love crabs by the way). The resultant effect is this ‘juicy’ post on seafood.

Any form of sea life that is regarded as food by humankind is termed as Seafood. Seafood mainly comprises shellfish and fish. Shellfish on the other hand includes the sub-categories of molluscs, echinoderms and crustaceans. Certain sea mammals such as dolphins and whales have also been consumed; but consumption of such meats is rarely prevalent in present times. On the other hand, certain edible sea plants, such as micro algae and seaweed are widely consumed all across the world. The cultivation and farming of seafood is known as mariculture or acquaculture or sometimes simply fish farming. From the dietary and nutritional point of view, seafood is a rich source of protein.

Seafood in the Ancient Era

dreamstime_7335859Archaeological studies have found that the harvesting and consumption of seafood can be traced back to the Palaeolithic Age. Going forward a little, cultivation and extensive consumption of sea food was extremely prevalent among the ancient Egyptians. This is not where it ends; from Japan in the Far East to Israel in Middle East to the north Americas – fishing has had its history since a long-long time.

seafood 1Evidences show that seafood was not only consumed in ancient Greece or Rome, but fishing was in vogue. Though, fishing as an activity or practice was considered somewhat lowly among the ancient Greeks, nonetheless consumption of seafood was definitely prevalent. Types of sea fishes, like anchovies and sardines were commonly sold in the market of Athens.

On the other hand, fish trade was a common activity in Israel. Merchants were actively involved in the import and export of fish across boundaries with Jerusalem as the hub. Fish and seafood trade was so prevalent, that one of the gates of Jerusalem was called Fish Gate.

Seafood and the Far East
In the Far East, China scores over its neighbour Japan over fish cultivation and trading. Acquaculture in China can be traced back to 3500 BC with the extensive farming of the common carp. Live fish trade was encourages by the Chinese emperors during the 1300s AD.

seafood 2Japan, on the other hand, started with fish trading much later only until the 8th century. Fish was mainly consumed along with rice. Fish was usually salted and then wrapped in fermented rice. This practice later gave birth to the delicacy known as sushi today. By the early 1800s food stalls selling sushi became quite popular in Tokyo.

Today, seafood is considered a delicacy and it available is most parts of the world, especially coastal regions and islands. Culinary enthusiasts can enjoy anything – from Octopus to Crabs – from Squids to Oysters.  Bon Appetite!

 

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