Monday, January 11, 2010

What's in a Name?

Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Is a rose is a rose is a rose? When is an Asian carp just a fish?

I really want to get away from writing about Asian carp but it doesn’t seem that I can right now. Articles about them seem to be jumping out into my face, much the same way these huge fish jump out of the water. As a follow up to my last posting about carp in the court, I was looking for information about the Supreme Court case trying to keep the Asian carp out of the Great Lakes when I came across an article in the Chicago Tribune entitled Asian Carp: Take That and Fry it.

The article describes how the fish is cooked in coconut milk with lemon grass and chili peppers to make a Vietnamese dish and that deep-fried carp has been a staple on the menu at an Omaha restaurant for decades. Apparently, many ethnic groups view the carp as a food fish, and perhaps that gefilte fish that my Bubbie made did use a variety of Asian carp, too.

Of course, as the article suggests, if Asian carp starts appearing on menus instead of Coho salmon or trout, it may have to get a name change to get out from under its bad reputation. It won’t be the first food to have an AKA. For example, did you know that canola oil is actually rapeseed? When the oil was introduced as an alternative to higher fat oils by a Canadian company it was given the designation CAN. O. L.A. and the name sounded so much better than rapeseed, it was used commercially. Mahi-mahi, another fish name change, is actually dolphin-fish but there was concern that it would not sell with that name, even though this fish is not the same as the dolphins that accompany cruise ships, entertaining passengers, and who are actually marine mammals.

I am by no means suggesting that the invasion of carp would be a good thing. These aggressive fish would destroy other fish in the Great Lakes and the entire ecosystem will change if they become permanent residents. Still, it helps to look at things in a different way.

Now I am wondering what kind of name change would be good for the Asian carp. Maybe lemon fish – for if they come to the Great Lakes we may have to make lemonade from them. Bouillabaisse, too, perhaps. What would that mean for a Door County fish boil?

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