Recent analyses of the first Thanksgiving indicate that what the Pilgrims feasted on wasn't turkey, but probably eel. While the image of a dressed and trussed Rhode Island conger eel likely won't have many families changing their Thanksgiving menus, we certainly recommend bringing some fish to the feast as a way to celebrate the holiday in a truly traditional fashion. We'll be following the lead of the Plymouth Colony on Thursday, but the opportunity to enjoy so much sustainable seafood reminds us that there's a lot to be thankful for.
Cape Cod, site of the Mayflower landing, was named for the abundance of cod swimming in its cold waters, but in recent years New England fishermen witnessed warmer waters and the near-collapse of the Gulf of Maine ground fishery. Now, thanks to management changes, newly certified sustainable species, and a renewed effort to protect traditional fishing communities, these fishermen have a chance at passing down their way of life to future generations.
It wasn't long ago either that sustainable seafood could barely be found on restaurant menus, but today tastemaker chefs have brought better fish to our dining consciousness. Progressive chefs are taking a chance on unfamiliar, under-utilized delicious sustainable species, even when diners might otherwise balk at the unknown. Most of all, chefs are demanding direct, transparent connections with the source of their food -- and we're all better off for it.
We've had the unique opportunity to work closely with both sides of the supply chain, and to witness both fishermen and chefs moving forward toward a better future for our food system. And so as we enjoy the ocean's bounty, our fishermen give thanks for diners that support traditional fishing communities, and for better regulations that keep them tying up at the dock safe and sound. And our chefs give thanks for the fishermen who hit the water every day in all kinds of conditions, keeping their walk-ins full and their diners happy, practicing sustainable methods to preserve fisheries for the next generation.
And for the crunch of a perfectly charred fillet, we give thanks.
Follow Sea to Table on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Sea2Table