Category Archives: Culinary
Both food shots and the occasional own recipe in here. For foodies.
Who are “we” to say?
Firstly, that depends who “we”” are.
If “we” are vegans, it is because catfish are not vegetables.
If “we” are Jews, it is because Siluroides do not have scales, but either naked skin or bony plates. Therefore they are not kosher. Not kosher is not kosher, don’t ask me to justify it biologically. If you want to be frum, eat kosher, that’s all.
If “we” are anyone else, then the question turns on what do we mean by “catfish”.
The huge biodiversity of catfishes
There are over 3000 species of catfish in the world and they demonstrate vast diversity. From the candirù of South America which swims up people’s urethra if they urinate in the water, all the way up to giant Pangasias or Siluris species among the largest freshwater fishes of the world. Plus various marine species also.
Just to be clear about how astonishing that fact is, it means that 1 in 20 of the vertebrate species in the world is a species of catfish, in Siluriformes. There’s no other order of vertebrates like that. And the cladists have been trying to break it down until they were looking like clado-masochists, and the geneticists have been getting frenetic and still the Siluriformes is reckoned to be all the product of a single putative common ancestor.
Some species of catfish deliver toxins, some electric shocks, some like Corydoras or Otocinclus are too tiny to be of use as food, but are very popular in aquaria. Some species makes sounds, some get out of the water and walk about, some are transparent and you can see right through them.
There is one catfish fossil despite all of this, its name is Corydoras revelatus and the author has held it in the palm of his hand in the non-public area of the British Museum of Natural History thanks to the kindness of the late Dr Gordon Howes, ichthyologist.
Catfishes which are regularly eaten
The catfishes most commonly farmed as food are European catfish, Silurus glanis. As long as you have got one from sustainable sources they make good eating. I recommend “som fri”” in Russia or the Ukraine. Clearly they are a sports fish too, and in these cases we put them back, we don’t take them and eat them.
In the US it is channel cats, the Ictalurus and Ameiurus species which the song “Walking in Memphis”” references in the words “they got catfish on the table””. These are also fine eating as long as they are fished from sustainable and legitimate sources.
In the Amazon region they eat large Loricariids like Plecos. If you should be there as a tourist and are not a Vegan or kosher Jew, you might want to try one.
A lot of tropical rivers though are home to parasites that can transfer to people. And here I come onto the kind of catfish which has become more popular in supermarkets in recent years, namely Panga.
These can be farmed in particularly polluted parts of the Mekong river. I suggest you don’t make these a part of your menu, although trying them once might be ok.
If you are a man, it is. Poland doesn’t do same-sex marriage.
The next prerequisite is finding a Polish girl who wants to marry you.
You then need to visit her family. On the last evening, when there is a big meal and you are the guest of honour, it is the time when you formally ask for the daughter’s hand in marriage. This you do after the main course but if you were given duck blood soup, a dark sweet soup called czernina as the first course, then it is a signal not to ask, as she is already intended for another nobleman.
Once these formalities are concluded the rest is easy.
Lithuanian sandwiches, Huliganov Cookery Show, culinary, Elena,
Original YT playout date: 8 March 2009
Following on from the success of “Huliganov Salad” and “Streets of Philadelphia”, Viktor Huliganov showcases “Lithuanian sandwiches”, in which at least one element, the bread, actually comes from Lithuania and the other bits can easily be found there. Probably.
No Lithuanians were hurt in the making of this sandwich. No Lithuanians have probably ever actually eaten this sandwich. The latter may account for the former, and vice versa.
Original YT playout date: 1 March 2009
Sophie learns knitting and scone making, two traditional crafts handed down in England from grandmothers to grandchildren.
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Original YT playout date: 11 January 2009
One of several cookery shows I had a mind to do with the Huliganov character, each of which would end up with something actually few people would like or appreciate in any way, which was to be part of the comedy. This particular film hinges on a pun between a song title and a cream cheese, both of which are named after a town in America noted for signing declarations of independence.
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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.
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.
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.
Christopher Lewis asked me on Facebook:
I am interesting on understanding your scale for judging an animal’s suffering. How do we know killing one animal is fine, another is wrong. Torturing one animal ok, hunting another to extinction not.
Here’s my answer:
Christopher Lewis It’s an excellent question.
I would formulate my thoughts this way:
- Vulnerability to extinction.
First, we have to protect species against extinction. I believe it is a massive sin to cause any extinction of species, a total blasphemy against the Creator as we cannot create a single species. And also the loss of the genetic material robs future human generations of the opportunity to experience this life form. So I make the same point here for animals, plants, fungi and without regard to size or complexity. We cannot replace them, and don’t destroy what you cannot create is an excellent maxim for life.
- Controllability of habitat and numbers
Second, given the first point, we need to take more care with regard to animals or plants where the slide to extinction is less controllable by us. So at the moment marine life has a bigger call on protection because we have certainly placed plastics into the oceans at measurable amounts and this is completely and guaranteedly anthropogenic and there is no debate about it, unlike the debates that can be made in the case of greenhouse gases and global warming. I am in two minds about GW but I am not in two minds at all about the plastic issue, to the degree where I jumped up and down and got everyone in a small chain of stores I do things with to abandon plastic bags entirely. I have been talking about the plastic issue for fifteen years in fact, and finally people are starting to take the issue seriously and hopefully not too late, but we still don’t know how good the clean up can be and how fast. So I put animals in the line of threat from plastics into a degree of priority.
- Strength of links to others of the species
It does appear that certain animals, even from their behaviour, have empathy to each other and interact with each other and some have interactions with their offspring which are related to love and tenderness in the human. For animals where the loss of one causes distress to others, I give more consideration than for the ones which do not have such a case. There are many species of bird, for example, that could be domesticated but humans have not chosen for the farmyard those which have lifelong pairbonds and which pine away when their loved one is taken. Take a chicken from the rooster and he happily carries on with his existing harem and the other chickens also don’t tend to look around for the missing hen. Do this to penguins, storks, swans and many other birds and mammals and you have a node of suffering. So I give priority not to eat the animals which show tenderness to one another and which demonstrate meaning to one another. In “The Time Machine”, for example, H.G.Wells Morlocks have taken the trouble to breed out of the Eloi race of humans they are farming any kind of empathy for each other. As indeed the powers that be do to us today, replacing Christ’s call to love our neighbour with the empty husk of political “correctness”.
- Intelligence regardless of sociability
Fourthly, the above point doesn’t mean that vertebrates are always preferred over invertebrates. It appears that shrimp which people eat in great numbers are social and that the octopus, which is pretty anti-social really, is a startling intelligence and deserves a bit more respect than your typical invertebrate. All of this is subordinate to the first and second point, anyway.
- Deaths per kilogramme of useable protein
This leads on to the fifth and this is an important point. If we are turning a living, sentient animal into amino acids for our own digestion, it seems to me to be more moral to take one animal that will feed many families over many meals than to take an animal which it takes many of to feed one person one meal. This is one of the reasons why I try to avoid shrimps. It takes maybe 10 shrimps to make a meal for one person, whereas a cow might make a hundred meals so the relationship of shrimps to cattle to give you a tonne of protein is at least a thousand (maybe closer to ten thousand) shrimps to one cow. This is an extreme example. Now if we placed the intelligence and value of the life of the shrimp at only one thousandth of that of the cow, maybe that would be justifiable. But if you look at shrimps in an aquarium for any length of time you’ll see probably just as much different activity and expression going on as you’ll see on a cow’s face as it stands around chewing cud, and maybe even more. So for me it’s disturbing to think that we could be making a virtual holocaust of these crustaceans just to produce the kilos of a single slaughtered cow. Likewise when it comes to fish is it not a bit disturbing to take a thousand capelin to give us the equivalent flesh of one tuna? Worth a thought.
- Naturally predated
And then we have the sixth issue. Prey animals. Animals are by nature divided into hunter and hunted. The hunted tend to be thise which are naturally in the niche of proviing meat to other species and to a degree they evolved into it. It is part of being a sheep that you get eaten by a tiger, it is part of being a tiger that you don’t get eaten by anything. Human agriculture fit into this natural division in that we usually don’t eat tigers (some do) and usually do eat sheep (some don’t).
If an animal or plant can be substituted with another in order to give the necessary thing we are looking for (example tortoiseshell now largely replaced by plastics) then it is best to take the version of the product with the least offences against these other points. If there is no substitute then all the more we need to take care that the species is protected from extinction. Usually this involves careful cultivation over a number of different sites.
Given the last point, an animal or plant which can actually be farmed is a better candidate for use than a wild species that cannot be kept and cultivated under human control. Those which can be kept ought to be kept in a proper way, with regard to diet, housing and enrichment. The use of battery farms and similar is becoming thankfully a thing of the past, and this trend should continue. We are making a one way trade with these animals, they feed us and give us food and fibres, plants render to us all their nutrients and chemicals and of course it is not a deal any of them signed up to. The least we can do is give them a reasonable time of quality life with as low suffering as possible prior to sacrificing that life, again with the minimum possible suffering. Not all species lend themselves to farming, on the other hand those species which do also seem to lend themselves to adaptation into numerous breeds with varying characteristics.
- Multiple products.
It is maybe good in view of the above to use synthetic fur rather than real fur, however if synthetic fur becomes unviable for any reason, it is better to farm fur animals which are also edible, such as rabbits, rather than mink which are only there to provide fur and which by the way require the sacrifice of numerous other animals to nourish them, although they can of course be fed on foods made from spent hens and dairy cows not usually sold for human cuisine. If we are going to sacrifice an animal, we should at least waste as little of it as possible. It is good to keep sheep as they provide milk and wool in addition to the produce of their carcase. Cattle produce leather in addition to their milk and blood products taken during their lives but this, like their meat and unlike wool, is a one off event at their death.
- Utilisation of inedible food. Humans cannot eat grass which is the easy crop. Cattle, sheep and camels do eat these as they are cellulose metabolised, thanks to their microbiota hosted in special chambers of their alimentary canal. Pigs can eat acorns and scraps which humans cannot eat. Via these animals, oak forests and grasslands have a use to us which might make the difference between keeping them going with their additional biodiversity, which you wouldn’t find in say a wheatfield. Hence farming them has advantages which vegetarians tend to overlook.
Now let’s apply all the above to the issue of whales. They for sure let themselves down on the size issue – one whale will feed more than one of almost anything else, and given that we cannot eat plankton they let themselves down in the acorn argument too, but on the other arguments we shouldn’t be taking them.
Original YT playout date: 20 May 2008
You thought it was only Brandon Hardesty that could do Hollywood re-enactments on YouTube? Not so, as this re-enactment of the famous spaghetti scene in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp by my delightful kids will aptly demonstrate.
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Original playout date: 28 January 2008
This evening we are in Taksim, in Beyoğlu, where the most thriving part of the city’s nightlife is, with shops open until late, and restaurants until even later. We went to one restaurant famous for the quality of its mezedes or hors d’oeuvres and were treated to some impromptu fasıl music. The title “Ye Beni” means “Eat me”, though whether it has the full range of meanings associated with that phrase in vernacular English I couldn’t begin to ask. Maybe someone here will tell me?
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Original playout date: 22 December 2007
“This is one from the early Autumn on the terrace.
If there’s one thing that doesn’t fly on youtube it’s anything to do with gardens or gardening videos, but despite that, here I go uploading another one. Will I ever learn? Maybe in 2008, but it’s still 2007 now, and I gotta upload off my material or just dump it, and I thought someone out there might, by some odd chance, take an interest in these fine fungi.
By the way, I say, I say, I say: why did the parasol mushroom get invited to all the best parties? Because he was a “”fun guy”” to be with!”
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Original playout date: 14 December 2007
Don’t drink these awful products, which are part of the globalisation which is reducing your choice and your freedoms. Support your local Carbonated Soft Drinks producer this Christmas instead.
Original playout date: 3 December 2007
A look at the home of Beef Stroganoff, one of Russia’s best known contributions to world cuisine, and a nice gallery of St Petersburg, with an “Acapulco” rendition of Group St Petersburg’s famous song “Okoldovana, ocharovana” by Diana Kopytina.
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