Making The Old -- and The Good -- New Again

By James Parrish Coleman -- a/k/a Jimbo Coleman

A later edition. Early Editions had a white

spine, and ads for long extinct local business.

Gulf Coast Gourmet was compiled by my late mother, Jane S. Coleman, in the early 1960s. The book was a fund raiser for the Foley Woman's Club.

The illustrations are the original work of a very talented artist named Marion Dyer. The book has been in print for many, many years; but has the simple fault of assuming you know about Gulf seafood and really know how to cook. I'll cook through the book (and my childhood), explain how Jane Coleman cooked, and tell a lot of family stories in the process. I like to cook. I will share what I have, and hope you like it. That's the spirit of this blog. Bon Appetit.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Guilding The Lily -- Telling The Truth & Fishing With Satan

Therefore, to be possess'd with double pomp,
To guard a title that was rich before,
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice, or add another hue
Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.
                         William Shakespeare
                         King John

Big Bill Shakespeare knew that literature is important because it gives life to truth in a way mere facts cannot. 

He did a bit of very plain writing when he said that to paint the Lilly was a "wasteful and ridiculous excess."

There are culinary lilies, too,  that have no need of the guilder, these foods stand alone, barely adorned. They are simple and wonderful and good. They take their places on the stage, and give their turns free from pretense, fluff or humbug. They are the monarchs of the sea.

The Pompano and the Oyster.

One is a beautiful thing, clearly Royal. Firm and virile, shining, strong and swift. The other looks in nature like a scattering of rubble hiding a mysterious and beautiful morsel.

The Pompano. The mighty King flashing and cutting through the summer sea. . All muscle and flesh, all edible goodness – begging for the grill. The Pompano is fish at its finest, firm and easy to grill, but as buttery as a hake – all things at once.

They Oyster. A queen who revels in her powerful nakedness. She is simple and unadorned. Naked on the half shell, like Venus without the modesty or red hair. There is nothing so sublime as a raw oyster. Today she submits to be dressed, simply, in cream and butter and bread. Lush and decadent, all creamy and willing richness.  

The Pompano, very similar to the Permit, Coquina and similar salt water fish has very firm flesh with an unbeatable flavor. The great naturalist Linneaus described the Atlantic variety. The name probably comes from the Spanish word for the leaf of a vine. 

pompano 1778, from Amer.Sp. pampano,  used of various types of fish, fromSp., originally "vine, tendril," from L. pampinus  "tendril or leaf of vine." Online Etymology Dictionary, (c) 2010 Douglas Harper. 

Whatever you call it, it is a great tasting fish. 

The Oyster (See Previous Post or click on the Oyster  tab, above.) 

The Pompano comes from the Gulf and the Oceans. They come to us through nets (unless you are one of the few with his own boat and way to catch these wonders.) 

Nets to catch fish are evil. Evil.

Satan, Gill-nets and Smart People Who Believe Stupid Things...

"Everybody" knows that gill-nets are destroying fish populations. It is a mantra that has resounded for more than 25-years along the Gulf coast. 

Typical Gulf Coast Net Fisherman.
Everybody also knows that gill net fishermen are devils who love to despoil nature and destroy the resource which supports them. 

Sport fishermen are all lovable family men who want nothing better than to spend time with their kids, passing on the rich tradition of enjoying nature on fishing boats that cost more than the average working person earns in a year. 

Way back in the 1980s (when giants still walked the earth), there was a chef in New Orleans named Prudhomme, who cooked redfish is a hot, hot, skillet. The fish was popular, and lots of them were caught in Laguna Madre on the Texas coast. Then, after the dish was talked about everywhere, there were suddenly fewer fish. 

Trippy and Slade (or  better looking 
facsimiles thereof) enjoying some down home 
family fun on the 42 foot yacht.

A Texas biologist studied the problem. Of course -- damned net fishermen! The Texas legislature stepped in a banned net fishing in that area.  The good and God fearing recreational fishermen breathed a sigh of relief. The natural resource would be spared so little Trippy and Slade could ride in daddy's boat down from Houston and catch fish, along with thousands of others. 

Fact is, there was no drop in fish population because of over fishing. Texas Monthly magazine did a great story on the subject, and explained that a rise in salinity in the lagoon forced the redfish out into the less salty gulf. (Laguna Madre in Texas is one of several hyper-saline lagoons in the world. These bodies of water are situated next to arid or semi-arid areas. When there is less rainfall than normal in the already dry area of the land side of the lagoon, the water in the lagoon evaporates and becomes very salty. The fish migrate out into the gulf. 

Laguna Madre, home of the hypersaline lagood.
Read all about it in Texas Monthly, April 1983.
Google it, and read the article. 
The biologist who described this went back to the Texas Legislature and said. "I was wrong". Trippy, Slade and their recreational pals said shut up. The net ban is still there.

The sport fishermen were wrong, the net fishermen were out and the politics of fishery regulation scored another ecologically bone-headed regulation. 

More recently, commercial fishermen have put forth some truth, although not particularly poetic this table of Myth vs. Fact gets the facts out

Attorney Beth Lyons

MYTH versus FACT

Every State from Maine to Texas has banned the use of gill nets.

All states regulate the use of gill nets as they regulate
all types of fishing. Florida and Texas have banned
the use of gill nets, but many states, such as
Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia,
Louisiana have chosen to manage their natural
resource of fish by regulations relating to seasons,
quotas, net use and size.

Gill nets hang and “drift ” for miles. 

Gill nets in Alabama do not “drift”; they are set by
the fisherman targeting a specific pool of fish; the
net is set in a circle around the school of fish and the
fisherman constantly works the net around the fish to
be able to pull them into a boat. *Note: there are nets
known as drift nets that are used in federal waters
and in other countries which do drift; however, these
are not the types of nets that are used in Alabama

Gill nets are left unattended. 

Gill nets are constantly attended by the fisherman.
Not only is this required by Alabama law, it is the
most effective way to target and harvest a school of

Gill nets snare everything within their reach
needlessly killing all kinds of fish.

Gill nets are specifically manufactured to target a
specific fish, generally Spanish mackerel and mullet.
The mesh is designed to allow the young fish to
swim through so that they can grow older and spawn.
It is also designed to prevent fish, other than the
specifically targeted fish, from being caught.

When gill nets are banned, the fish populations will

Catch counts in the two states which have effectively
banned gill nets do not reflect this. The catch counts
in Florida and Texas are essentially the same after
the ban of gill netting as before the ban.

“Schools of Spanish mackerel used to be so big they
looked like they covered acres. You don’t see that
any more.”

Whether schools of Spanish mackerel are larger or
smaller than in the past is hard to address as is any
anecdotal comment. Even if true, there is no
scientific evidence that the use of gill nets has caused
this. Many things have changed in the last 20 years,
such as the dramatic rise in recreational fishing,
charter boat fishing, and general boat and jet ski
traffic on the surface of the water..

Beth Marietta Lyons, Attorney
Alabama Seafood Association

The factor that is always missing from a discussion carried out by net-fishing foes is loss of habitat. We can't talk about that, because that might entail preventing construction on the beach, hammering polluters, and parking bulldozers. That is an affront to Trippy, Slade and all that's holy.  Making the larger population sacrifice to protect a natural resource? That is the kind of talk you'd expect from that spawn of Satan -- the net fisherman.

Next time: lets cook!

No comments:

Post a Comment