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The smoked eel of northern Europe is celebrated throughout history and in all literature. There is a scene in Len Deighton's Berlin Game where the hero orders schnapps after eating smoked-eel in a small Gasthaus up close to the "wall". Merely, he insists as part of a long German ritual, to wash the smell of eel off his fingers. No, perhaps I will never eat eel again, but I now know much more about a fascinating animal from this well written intriguing book.

What could possibly be fascinating about eels? They're gross, slimy, snake-looking fish, right? This well-written book will enthrall you with the curious history of this strange fish; not just its life cycle, though that is intriguing as well, but also the freshwater eel's relation to Man throughout the ages. There are some recipes included in the back for good measure, provided you ever get your hands on some eel.

This book is not just a dry factbook about a seemingly unappealing fish, but rather an enlightening guide to how this humble creature has managed to slither onto the tables and into the hearts of many a culture throughout human history. Furthermore, the hardback copy looks really nice sitting on your shelf; a pretty dark-tan color with black lettering in a nice font. That is, without the dust jacket on.

The jacket looks nice too. Very pretty little book. If you are an American, it is unlikely that you have ever eaten eel. You are more likely to have eaten eel if you are a European, and if you are Japanese, you may well eat it regularly.

Consider the Eel

It is hard to figure out just why Americans now have an aversion to eating eels and other countries do not, especially since eels are part of our Pilgrim heritage, they were enjoyed by our founding fathers, and they formed an important commercial catch earlier in the last century. These eels reproduce in the open sea, and early development of the young takes place there, but they drift to different fresh water sources to feed and grow to adult sizes, over a period of up to twenty years.

This is opposite to the life cycle of the salmon. Then they stop eating forever and head to sea, changing their eyes to adapt to ocean dark, and changing body chemistry to put up with salt water and the change of water pressure. It was only in that a Danish researcher found eel larvae in the Sargasso sea, the huge area of the Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Azores.

All the Atlantic eels go there to mate, and then they die, but no adults have ever been seen swimming there; the only two eels found there had been eaten by other fish. We can only guess at what they are up to deep below the surface. The larvae look like little oval leaves. Depending on currents, the larvae float for thousands of miles and for years until they reach estuaries and mouths of rivers. Once they find a river with a muddy bottom and food sources, they take control of their lives.

They can even cross land to get to a lake or pond over a mile away. Farming eels is quite possible, and can be lucrative, but must be done under an extraordinary disadvantage which no other farm animal presents. Eels cannot be bred in captivity. No one has been able to make them forgo their trip to the Sargasso for reproduction.

Customer Reviews

American eel fishermen and dealers, many of whom Schweid talked to in preparation of this book, have a peculiar business of trading in a product that no one they know likes. Many of them have been in business for decades, although catches are declining and sales which have to be to Europe or Japan are profitable or not based on exchange rates. Many are simply revolted by the idea of eating their product.

Looks too much like a snake.

Sure eels are slimy and weird, but that doesn't mean you can't learn to love them! Read this book and instead of retching at the thought of a mouthfull of broiled eel, you'll find yourself smacking your lips at least I did.


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Overall, this book seems well researched. It's well written and an overall fun read. Like an eel, it's sluggish some times.

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But page after page it remains fascinating. Eels have never been bred successfully in captivity. Consulting fisherfolk, cooks, and scientists, Schweid takes the reader on a global tour to reveal the economic and gastronomic importance of eel in places such as eastern North Carolina, Spain, Northern Ireland, England, and Japan. While this rich yet mild-tasting fish has virtually disappeared from U. The book also includes recipes, both historic and contemporary, for preparing eel.

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Members Reviews Popularity Average rating Mentions 56 3 , 4. Add to Your books. Add to wishlist. The Joe Rogan Experience Library No current Talk conversations about this book. I know, I know. Rather unusual for me to be reading a book on food, particularly seafood, and not be stimulated to cook and eat it. You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data. References to this work on external resources. Wikipedia in English None. Book description. Haiku summary. In Consider the Eel, acclaimed writer Richard Schweid takes the reader on a journey to show how this rich yet mild-tasting fish is a vibrant part of the world culture.

Discover how eels, from their birth in the Sargasso Sea to their eventual end as a piece of kabayaki or as part of an Italian Christmas dinner, are one of our oldest and least understood gifts from the sea. Quick Links Amazon. Amazon Kindle 0 editions. Audible 0 editions. CD Audiobook 0 editions.

Cuts to eel catch will be considered, says Fisheries Minister | RNZ News

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