As the Slow Fish event gets underway in Genoa’s historic port today, three new products from Icelandic fishing traditions are boarding the Ark of Taste – Slow Food’s catalogue of foods at risk of extinction. Traditionally dried cod (harðfiskur), haddock, and fermented shark are small-scale artisan productions, fished with respect for the local marine environment, that are continuing despite the pressures of industrial fishing on fish stocks, as well as coastal cultures, communities and economies.
The Ark tells the stories of edible species and food traditions around the world that are in danger of extinction, with equal focus on safeguarding biodiversity and upholding cultural knowledge. Currently the catalogue lists more than 1,100 unique foods, including many fish and seafood species and products: from the Lira spider crab that is fished in Spain using artisan methods to the small Mahaze goby in Japan that keeps roasting and smoking traditions alive to America’s lake whitefish or Tuscan palamita.
Dried fish and fermented shark have been part of Iceland’s culinary culture for hundreds of years, and are strongly linked to local fishing techniques that respect the environment. “The sea and its fruits are what make Iceland habitable, and we have to take care of the marine environment,” said Gudrun Palsdottir, one four small-scale dried cod producers in the Westfjords area. “Sustainable fishing, including monitoring fish stocks, is of utmost importance to the Icelandic people.”
Understanding our oceans, lakes, rivers, and wetlands at the local level is crucial to promoting a wild food system that is seasonal, respects the environment and provides fair working conditions for fishermen. Knowing more about our local food traditions can help us make choices that support responsible fishermen while avoiding overfished species, and the Ark helps us share that knowledge.
Ark of Taste and Presidia fish products will be highlighted this weekend at the biennial Slow Fish event in Genoa, Italy. Fishermen, chefs, consumers, and fishmongers from around the world will come together to share and discover techniques to catch, purchase, and prepare good, clean and fair seafood. Delicious alternatives to more common, overfished species will be presented in the Market, as well as those that highlight the important role of local environments and communities for the future of fishing.
If you’re not in Genoa, you can discover a selection of the Ark fish products in The Aquatic Ark – Underwater Biodiversity gallery.
Learn more about other important products in your area that have been accepted onto the Ark of Taste, and nominate those you know to help protect flavors and traditional knowledge into the future. Everyone is invited to nominate a product, species or breed in any category – meat, vegetables, preserves, cheeses, seafood etc.