Talking Shop


For those of you that haven’t gathered, I like fish.  I like to eat fish.  I especially enjoy selling fish.  I call myself a fishmonger.

I created a fresh fish buying club within my small land-locked community where grocery store fish just isn’t great.  Under the guidance of my boss and mentor, Matthew Rubiner, I strung together ideas and plans to transport some gorgeous fish from Portland, Maine every week.  Being a cheeseshop, we were worried about space and issues of scales on the cheeses or ‘fishy’ odors.  I am proud to say that the fish I bring in is so fresh that only the scent of the fresh and briny sea is noticeable.  As for the scales, they tend to fly about and end up in funny places..

Just like any other source of food, I need to know where it comes from.  I spend countless hours on computers, phones, and in books reading up on species, fishing methods and responsible seafood.  I know that this wild food is in jeopardy and precautions and measures need to be taken on my end to ensure safe, responsible and honest product.

I won a grant in 2010 to head up to Maine and spend 2 weeks learning and seeing where my fish came from and really gather some of the knowledge and skills to be a fishmonger.  I’ll be sharing my experience in the days to come.

It’s late now, tomorrow is Friday.  I have Mackerel to gut,  Striper Bass to fillet, Cod to bone, Diver Scallops to divide up and Oysters to shuck in our adjoining cafe.

-Austin Banach, fishmonger

Beyond Four Fish

Paul Greenberg writes in his book, ‘Four Fish’– “Out of all the many mammals that roamed the earth, our forebears selected four- cows, pigs, sheep, and goats- to be their principal meats.  Out of all the many birds, humans chose four- chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese.  In the center of the seafood section four varieties of fish consistently appeared and had little to do with the waters adjacent to the market in question: salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna.”  In a common market/ super market consumers know these types of fish as just flesh rather than the actual animal as a whole (similarly to most other land meat).  Even worse, some markets or restaurants are substituting one species for another and giving it one of the four common names.  Part of my job as a fishmonger is to open doors to new species and new ideas in selecting fish.  Persuading those so comfortable of these four fish to something more adventurous and perhaps more responsible is very rewarding.