A few friends were going back-country camping to fish some of the higher lakes; we ended up getting into a pretty funny conversation. I’m sure it is one of those conversations that are much funnier when you are there, but it did raise some questions as to why we refer to certain things in ways that can be. Well, maybe a little off or seem to be an outright contradiction.
The debate started when one person asked how to cook their seafood once they caught it. Another in the group with this dumbfounded look on his face asked where they were going to get seafood in the back country. He said they were going to catch fresh fish and cook that up. Well, that was the beginning of one of those conversations where you are all left scratching your head and holding your stomach because it hurts so much from laughing. I think I laughed hard enough to rationalize not having to do any sit-ups for a week.
I explained that the term seafood broadly pertains to freshwater fish, as well as fish caught in the ocean. The debate was on: Why wasn’t a lake fish called lake food — or stream food had it been caught in a stream. I tried to explain that it was much easier to use one term since you are talking about fish rather than trying to pinpoint the exact location of where it came from.
There are, of course, differences in the individual fish when it comes to taste — but there also are great similarities. Freshwater bass and a sea bass are both flaky, white-meat fish with a lot of similarities even in flavor. Likewise, I think of Mackinaw trout as being more like the ocean-going blue fish than I do any of the other members of the trout family because the meat is whiter, oilier and much stronger in fishy flavor.
Everyone seemed to agree that those similarities and differences don’t count; a fish is not seafood if it doesn’t come from the sea. I had to ask them about salmon. It is born in a freshwater river, moves out and lives in the ocean for three years and then comes back to the river. Do you have to keep changing what you call it?
Well, the light bulb was still out and on we went. My English friend brought up that in England, they called freshwater fish “lake food” and that was what it should be called here. I asked him in how many restaurants had he ordered fish in Tahoe. Did the menus have a seafood section and a lake-food section or in the description of the dish, did it say if the plate was a fresh- or salt-water fish?
His answer: “Actually, I just order what sounds good.”
My parting response was that they had better bring also a few hot dogs in case they caught no fish to debate about.
Please, feel free to respond with your thoughts on seafood versus lake food.
1 “lake food” trout
1 T butter
1 pinch basil or tarragon, depending on your taste
1 pinch salt and pepper
1 piece tin foil
After cleaning the fish, squirt lemon and rub butter in the cavity. Season with herbs, salt and pepper and wrap in foil.
In the back country, you’ll have to cook it over an approved camp stove since campfires are currently prohibited due to the fire ban in effect. (Check with the local U.S. Forest Service Ranger District office for details.) If you’re cooking it in an approved campfire ring, cook it over the fire or place a rock in the fire and put the fish on the rock. Turn occasionally until it is done.
You can prepare it the same way on a skewer and slowly cook it belly up.