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Fish Market, Venice

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This is a difficult one I love visiting the fish market on the other side of the Rialto. But the fish I know, I suspect are imported from other parts of the world: salmon (probably farm raised), etc. (Sorry about the etc. but can't think of any others at the moment.) I would prefer to buy fish that has been caught locally and not initially frozen and then thawed out for the vendors' tables. Does anyone know which are local fish, and their local names, and any reommendations for how to cook.. Also, am I better off buying frozen shrimp, salmon, etc. in the local supermrket for freshness. Thanks if anyone can help.

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    The fish in the market, whatever their origin, will be better than the fish in the supermarket for a variety of reasons. Even if they were caught on the same day in the same place, fish meant for the commercial trade is generally handled better than fish for retail sale in supermarkets. There _are_ supermarkets (Whole Foods, I reluctantly have to say) that do better than Albertsons-Stop & Shop-Pricechopper, and this is reflected in their prices.

    In general, the freshest, most local fish at Rialto will be the little guys: small fish, shellfish, anchovies, shrimp, prawns, andcuttlefish/seppe/calamari. The Adriatic is pretty fished out for a lot of bigger stuff. Most of it is caught at night by attracting fish to the nets with lights. Very picturesque.

    The swordfish always looks pretty good, if tiny by US standards, and I think a lot of this stuff is coming from Sicily, Sardinia, maybe Tunisia. I don't know where the bigger fish like branzino are coming from, but nothing in Italy is coming from very far, and it is moving pretty quickly.

    I am going to hazard a guess that a fish being sold at Rialto today could have been caught the previous day off, say, Livorno. "Dayboat" fish and shellfish is the standard for quality.

    Deep sea fish like cod and its cousins are almost all caught in the Atlantic and frozen or iced at sea on a boat that may not come in for a week or two.

    There are substantial pollution issues in the Adriatic and Mediterranean, and I am just a little bit nervous when I eat vongole or other shellfish that feed by sucking water through and filtering it for nutrients. But so far, not even a queasy tummy.

    In the glory days of the yen, Japanese tuna buyers met Massachusetts fishermen at the docks in towns like Scituate, Plymouth, Provincetown. When the fisherman got a big one, they stopped fishing and headed straight for the dock. The buyer measured the core temperature to learn how fresh the fish was and based the price on that. They were trucked immediately to Boston to meet an airliner going to Japan, and the fish was on sale in Tokyo next morning. That's fresh.

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