Have you noticed how difficult it is to eat, or at least order fish abroad? You sit there in front of the menu and you start asking yourself all these questions; what is a halibut in Swedish (or Spanish, French, Finnish..)? and what about a red snapper or a mahi-mahi?* It is so much easier to eat meat – you only have to learn pork, lamb, beef, veal…
But, do we really need to know what the fish is called in our own language when we are abroad? Does it really help you to order, to know that red snapper is röd snapper in Swedish?? Maybe if you are great fish connaisseur or a fisher man / woman, but for a layman (woman?) like myself – I know my basic fish such as salmon, cod, perch, herring, pike (gädda), eel (I am after all from Skåne, and yes, I call it a fish!)… All the rest is just fish and usually good enough for me to eat – as long as you don’t serve me a fish with a dog smile.**
Fish drying on a house in Lofoten, Norway
I remember once in a fish restaurant in Gilleleje, Denmark when we asked about the fish, the waiter brought out a big fish poster and pointed to the one that was on the menu – ok, so now we know how it looked like when it was alive and happily swimming in the sea! And its name in Latin… However, it didn’t inform me how the fish would taste on the plate, did it!?
Some good old salmon, Jamie Oliver recipe – yummy!
The best method would be to just ask the restaurant staff to describe the fish – white or red flesh, thin or thick, lots of bones or not etc. I am not saying that I adhere to this method all the time, the other day I was desperately looking for the translation of red snapper or chillo as it is called in Puerto Rico. O claimed that chillo is not a fish in Spain, and that it must have another name; I couldn’t find snapper in my English-Swedish dictionary; the Concise English dictionary told me it was a fish related to the bass but living in warm waters… I tried to find bass in the English-Swedish dictionary but still no luck. Finally I googled it, which I should have done from the beginning – red snapper is röd snapper in Swedish, very helpful😦
The clue was probably the fact that it lives in warm waters – of course we don’t have a name for all the Caribbean warm water fish in Swedish and of course O wouldn’t know the chillo*** from Spain either!
I wonder what kind of fish this Maltese fisherman would catch?
*) Halibut is hälleflundra in Swedish and mahi-mahi or dolphin fish is called guld makrill but I can assure you that it doesn’t taste or look anything like a mackerel!
**) O was served half a trigger fish including the head with sharp dog-looking teeth in Vieques – it is called pez puerco in Puerto Rico.
***) Chillo is also Puerto Rican slang for lover.