Some Q&A about culinary matters (Quora #2)

A couple of Saturdays ago I started a series which was intended to reproduce my inputs on Quora over here on this blog, as a repurposing and collating of them as well as a way of making sure I don’t lose my own content.

Having given more thought to the way of doing this, I have decided to do these Quora Q&As on Saturdays but to change the approach slightly, namely instead of having one answer per post to only have one answer if it is a nice big essay but often (as in the case of the first one) it is too short to deserve being a whole week’s portion. Not only will these posts look funny but also they won’t be very useful and I’ll never get through the whole corpus of my answers on Quora.

So I decided to group answers around themes and I have a little sheet where I am preparing them for these Group posts, based on the format I’ll be doing today.

Cymothoa exigua – the fish louse mentioned below – in action.

Please remember that my answers vary a lot from facetious to informative usually depending on my mood, the time available and what I think about the question. Be prepared for a rather broad range of approaches to questions.

If you want to discuss or ask anything else around these themes, please get a discussion going in the comments. It’s what the comment facility is there for. I hope it is not onerous to log on and make some kind of utterance.

As mentioned in the title, the theme for today is Culinary, and these answers were given by me all in late 2015 or the first half of 2016.  I’ve got three Q&As for you today in this topic.

1. Why are people okay with consuming raw fish or rare steak when it may contain parasites?

Well, it’s not a good idea eating raw river fish and you won’t actually find that much by way of river fish in sushi bars.
With two exception, the Candiru and other people themselves, all parasites on man are invertebrates. They don’t have kidneys, they cannot osmoregulate. The ability to do this happened in the notional common ancestor between us and lampreys and anything “higher” than that has kidneys, anything “lower” doesn’t.

So those invertebrates that live in the sea want a salinity for their plasma of nearer 27 ppm while those from freshwater want lower than 9 ppm, which is what vertebrate plasma has.

So fish lice and other parasites in marine fishes can’t survive the change form a marine to a non-marine environment. You don’t have to worry about them breeding in you. There is one illness from one louse but extremely rare and limited to a few species. But these days marine fish have other risks, namely contamination from plastics and metals that they have absorbed from the sea.

That’s now a bigger worry than parasites by far if we’re talking about marine fish, and brings us back to the urgent and much larger issue of how we can reduce new marine pollution with plastics and heavy metals as well as clean up what is already floating around out there.

Views till now: 251
Upvotes till now: 0

About this question and answer: There weren’t any comments on my answer, which was not th most popular answer as I took maybe too ichtyological an angle on the topic. The fact s also that there have been cases of some people ingesting the eggs of the fish louse Cymothoa exigua which latches onto the tongue of certain pacific fishes, but it is very rare and should be easy enough to spot, as it will show up by looking into the mouth of the fish. If catching marine fish for the table it would be one thing to look out for, but in fact the most famous case where a restaurant in Puerto Rico was taken to court did not result in compensation as there is no evidence that this species, even if it can be ingested, can cause harm to humans.

2. Do you like Subway sandwiches?

I will say yes, although I wouldn’t want to live on them. As fast food goes this has more healthy options than most. You can get a wholemeal-ish bread that looks a bit better than the white bread, you get a nice portion of fresh salad items from various vegetable species thrown on top. There is also a vege-patty option for the “meat” part. There are some quite lean meat and fish options. You don’t have to have sauce so the other answerer who complained about that comes across a little bit like the the guy in a sandwich joke I know. You don’t get much by way of an incentive to “go large” which is bad practice really, so all told I will be ready to add my voice in favour of Subway.

About this question and answer:  it has 42 views and 2 upvotes. There are 3 other answers of which 2 are of the same mind as me saying they are OK, whereas one person seems to hate them with a passion. Now over to you – it’s not polling Thursday but in fact I can put polls in any of my posts, so:

I am now not so keep on Subway because I have gone wheat free, and Subway is all about wheat, so my own answer in this poll is not likely to be as positive as it would have been when I wrote the answer.

3. Do all major types of freshwater fish have many bones and tastes muddy?

Grass carp is known to have these qualities and tench also. They are nevertheless cultivated because of the ease of cultivation and should be a cheap fish.

Catfish, bass, pikeperch and trout are all quite different and are higher value fish. Carp also and even Sturgeon. The problem is that trout want faster moving water and clean conditions, Catfish and pike perch predate other fish in the foodchain and Carp and Sturgeon and European Catfish are fish which mature over many years.

About this question and answer: it has 1,400+ views but no upvotes, at the time of posting here.  There are 3 other answers of which the best one contains a chart of freshwater North American fishes and a statement about which ones are muddy, which are tinny and which are woody. Others merely stated their favourite freshwater fishes such as Bluegill or Tilapia.

My angle was a little bit not only from the side of the kitchen and the consumer but also fish culture.

All I might want to add now on this whole topic is that if you are writing from North Americ you have all those panfish species and Ictalurid or Ameurid catfishes which are probably the best available freshwater eating in the world. I don’t recommend tropical freshwater for the reasons given in the first of today’s three answers – you can certainly get parasites from Panga and Tilapia. But in Europe our best available is European catfish, trout (which my wife likes a lot) and pike-perch or sandacz/Zander/sandat/lucioperca. I don’t really go a bundle on any of these, although I do like a bit of fried carp at Christmas just for tradition, despite the so-called “muddy” taste. It’s a natural taste and in fact there is no harm in it, as long as the mud they live in isn’t polluted with other things like heavy metals or microscopic pieces of plastic.


Your thoughts welcome, by all mean reply also to other community members!