Keeping them honest


‘Keeping them honest’. The catch phrase always used by CNN when they go on the attack of Trump and his Republican party. It usually comes in tandem with ‘fake news’. I wanted to use it for a heading in this post as it seems appropriate. Over this last week alone, I have three examples of ‘fake’ news that have come to my attention, specifically in the naming of fish. I’ll mention these and a few others just to alert you. That YOU, the consumer, need to be more aware of what you buy. Caveat emptor ‘buyer beware’. It leads to the same message that I always promulgate, the same old drum I beat, that you need to force the suppliers, retailers, restaurants etc to be more honest and transparent. As things get more worse in the naming of fish in market, only YOU can force and make for more honesty.

So, a couple of misnomers to start. Chilean Seabass. A beautiful fish but not even a seabass. It’s actually Patagonian toothfish, which in itself is very similar to Antarctic Cod. The two are often mixed for sale which is another issue, but I can bore you with that at another time. Chilean seabass was devised as a name to enhance sales in the USA. Then there’s Grenadier, often caught with the Toothfish. Its actual name is Rat tail, by virtue of its long rat like tail. No surprise they changed that name, ‘for marketing purposes’. It’s not a bad fish in saying all that.

The one I heard recently, which prompted me to write this piece, pertained to an offer of Dover sole from Canada. The catching locale of the fish, West Coast Canada, had already alerted me to another example of misnaming, as Dover sole is a splendid and expensive fish caught in the North Sea, on which the English port of Dover boarders. The cost for the Canadian ‘dover sole’, price was then about half the cost of the ‘Dover sole’. A quick enquiry deduced that the Canadian dover sole, Microstomus pacificus, is named after the authentic dover sole, Solea solea, because, I quote, ‘it bears a resemblance….’. Amazing. But it is a completely different species and certainly not of the same quality.

However, the best misnomer is definitely ‘Dory fillet’, which is the name that someone came up with to enhance the sales of Basa, or Pangasius, the scientific name, which is actually Vietnamese catfish. ‘Yes’ it’s a catfish. How anyone come can up with a name for that fish which incorporates ‘Dory’, obviously with reference to ‘John Dory’, an exquisite flat fish from Australia. This was the name used a great deal, especially in Singapore, until the Singapore government, possibly because of a spate of complaints, banned its usage. Its now referred to as Basa or ‘Vietnamese sole’. Its still not even a sole. In Hong Kong, it is generally sold as Vietnamese sole, Basa or Pangasius. Sometimes you’ll see ‘white fish fillets’. What in earth does that mean.

So, team, please be aware of what you buy. At least check the Latin name. Do your own due diligence. And, if there is insufficient information, ask for it. Please let’s start a move to ‘keep them honest.





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