The following is excerpted from the new TED Book The Whole Fish: How Adventurous Eating of Seafood Can Make You Healthier, Sexier, and Help Save the Ocean.
A herring run quickens my heart. Some late winter mornings, I awake on my houseboat in Sausalito to sea lions roaring. When I step outside and squint through the fog, I see white gulls and bark-brown cormorants perched on wood pilings and circling in the thick, salty air, waiting to dive. Herring eggs start to appear, stuck to my houseboat’s tie-up lines, in late February and early March. My cats often show up at my door wet and peeved. No longer able to stand dipping their paws in and fishing from the deck, they fall or dive in after herring.
The San Francisco Bay used to support many fisheries. In his book Tales of the Fish Patrol, Jack London wrote about chasing down shrimp catchers, salmon poachers, oyster gatherers, and scofflaw fishermen hooking sturgeon by illegal methods. Now only a few fishermen fire up their boats to go after herring, the very last commercial fishery left in the bay. Herring here too are fished for their eggs to sell to the Japanese, with the rest turned into fishmeal.
It’s said that if a child grows a vegetable in his garden, he will eat it. The same applies to fish. There is nothing better than pulling a fish out of the water and cooking it right there at the shore’s edge over flickering flames.