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The Cultural Importance of Seafood

A Fisherman's Place - 31 June 2022

The Cultural Importance of Seafood

Global Significance of Fish Consumption


Since humankind first decided many, many moons ago, to trust the ocean as a source of sustenance, seafood has been an integral part of the diet of all cultures across the world. In this article, Pescaluna does a deep dive on the relationship between indigenous cultures and the food that the ocean offers up; their love for seafood and the many different and unique ways in which they fish for it. While fresh fish delivery in Cape Town comes from sources that we know well, what is the importance of seafood the world over?

What Indigenous Communities Teach Us

In modern times, when we think of fishing, we think of huge trawlers powered by motors and electronics, manned by huge crews from all walks of life. But fishing in Cape Town and many other parts of the world has been around since long before we had trawlers, lights and commercially-made nets to help us reel in the catch. Indigenous coastal communities (this means communities who are ethnic minorities with historical ties to the land, but we have also included communities who self-identify or are officially identified as forming less than 1% of the population) have relied on the ocean for their food and so much more since humankind first stepped foot into the sea.

Title The Cultural Importance of Seafood Sub Global Significance of Fish Consumption Description Pescaluna catches some of the highest quality fresh fish in Cape Town and delivers it straight to your door from their dock in Hout Bay. In this article, Pescaluna dives deep into the global significance of fish consumption and unwraps the cultural importance of seafood. Seafood plays a hugely important role in these communities not only as a source of nutrients but also as part of rituals and ceremonies. Catching fresh fish puts these
communities in direct contact with nature and reaffirms their beliefs that the earth will provide.

Where modern man has often overfished the oceans in his desire for profit (thankfully regulations have been set in place to avoid this) and to provide fresh fish delivery in Cape Town (and all over the world), coastal indigenous communities can teach us a lot about respect for the ocean and the bounty that it offers to us. In fact, large scale fishing for fresh fish delivery has had and continues to have a negative impact on the ethnic traditions surrounding fishing and seafood.

From the Strandlopers in South Africa (long before fresh fish delivery in Cape Town was available!) to the Polynesian tribes halfway across the world, what coastal indigenous people can teach us is true respect for the ocean and ingenious ways of taking what we need from it while still maintaining the balance of life within it.

Sustainable fishing practices such as rotating fishing grounds, hand spearing fish of only a certain size and above; these ensure that fishing grounds are maintained and balance in the ocean is stable. Only what is needed is taken, and this is something that everybody can learn from.

Luxury Seafood Consumption

In many cultures across the world having luxury seafood grace your table is a sign of wealth or being successful. Imagine a celebratory dinner without a buttery rock lobster and a glass of champagne or seared swordfish steaks ! Fresh fish delivery in Hout Bay and all over the world can bring such delicacies straight to your door, no extra effort needed. Different cultures, of course, value different seafood, each for their reasons. For example, in China, a fresh fish delivery would likely contain abalone or shrimp whereas a fresh fish delivery in Cape Town (of the luxury variety) would likely contain crayfish or prawns . The Chinese market has shown an incredible increase in the amount of seafood consumed in the last few decades; just from 1991 to 2007 there was an increase in consumption of 301, 657 tonnes across the board which works out to an increase of 21,46 kg per person.

● Dishes like beche-de-mer (or hai shen, which is a sea cucumber) and shark fin soup have long been cultural favourites and indicate, in Chinese culture, a certain societal status. These dishes were prepared for emperors and now in modern China, they set one apart as a person of means. Both of these dishes are also culturally significant in that they are believed to promote general good health - hai shen is translated to sea ginseng. These wild foods which come directly from nature are known in Chinese culture as bu foods - foods which are strengthening and tonic-like, as well as unpolluted.

Hawaii’s Natural State of Fishing

When you hear the name Hawaii, straight away your mind jumps to gorgeous sandy beaches and crystal clear seas. The Polynesian cultures all fished for a large part of the protein that their people consumed and Hawaii is no different. An average fresh fish delivery in Hawaii would probably contain Ahi (bigeye or yellowfin tuna ), Kajiki (blue marlin), Opakapaka (Hawaiian pink snapper) or Mahi Mahi (Dorado) whereas fresh fish delivery in Hout Bay could probably contain hake or snoek .

Hawaiians have many delicious traditions when it comes to food, but the seafood ones are very special indeed. In recent years, many Polynesian cultures (Hawaii included) have been reaching back to their traditional roots and reconnecting with nature - this includes hunting and fishing in traditional, rather than modern ways.

● Traditional fishing methods like traps or hand spearing allow the fishermen to throw back or avoid any undersized fish, in doing so, they maintain the sustainability of harvesting seafood and ensure that the fishing grounds are healthy and readily available for the next generation (and the ones to come). Fresh fish in Cape Town, in the same way, relies on the fishermen who sail our waters to be responsible in their methods. Pescaluna is a proud member of the South African Hake Longline Association - we deliver our fresh fish in grease paper and brown wrap to ensure freshness and sustainability long after we’ve reeled in the perfect catch.

Aboriginal Seafood Culture

MAll life is equal and sacred within Australian Aboriginal culture. Their spirituality is described as “oneness and an interconnectedness with all that lives and breathes, even with all that does not live or breathe”. Although colonialism (something that also affected fresh fish in Cape Town with our own local cultures) completely reshaped the areas of land where aboriginal peoples were allowed to live, hunt and even practice their culture, a deep-seated connection to their roots has thankfully meant that their practices (religious as well as hunting and fishing) have been passed down through the generations. Now that there is a move towards restoring traditional rights, people can practice their traditions once more.

● Mullet was one of the fish that most densely populated the rivers in Australia, it is noted that this was a chief source of seafood protein for the local tribes. These fresh fish, as well as any other meats, would be roasted over hot coals or covered in ash and then put onto a bed of coals as a form of slow cooking.

● Seafood even entered into Aboriginal songs! Songs of the Gurrugumar - the West wind that brought with it, calm seas, which allowed dolphins to push fish into the shallows and allowed the easy gathering of shellfish such as oysters. So connected are they to the earth that the very act of taking fish from the ocean or rivers is a physical outworking of their spirituality and culture. The fishing practices of the tribes were passed down in the traditional ways, but they are so much a part of the tribe’s culture that even games children played would highlight their futures, whether they be fishermen or hunters.

Can you imagine anything more different from this culture and its traditions than having fresh fish delivery come right to your door? The vast differences in these cultures are clear, but what is equally clear is that regardless of culture, seafood is appreciated worldwide. For fresh fish delivery, check out our menu over at Pescaluna. We deliver fresh fish straight to your door in Cape Town, from our dock in Hout Bay. Join us next time as we unbox 3 marvellous, aesthetically insane, gourmet, Michelin Star seafood recipes for you to try at home.

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