Friday, June 23, 2006

Lobsters from Zeeland

It's not only asparagus or other vegetables that have seasons, so have game, fish and lobsters.
A few weeks ago Spouse and I decided we deserved a day off and drove to Zeeland, in the south-west of The Netherlands - fairly unknown territory to us. We had nothing big and fancy in mind, just drive around a bit, see the area, spot some birds, eat a herring or, if we could be that lucky, a roll with smoked eel. And as fish is best found near the water, we kept to the coastal route and didn't enter the sometimes touristic villages.
De Vluchthaven (port of refuge) in Zijpe looked like a sailor's club where members only could order a cup of soup. We were mistaken. It was all about lobster. Dutch lobster or Oosterscheldekreeft, caught right in front of our noses by one of the five licenced fishermen between April 1st and July 15th, as we learned from a promotional booklet.
It's only since 1883 that lobsters are found in these waters, that had become saltier due to the blocking of the river Schelde a few decades before (you know us, building dykes and making land out of water etc. etc.). Till then, lobsters were imported from Norway; nowadays they are still flown in (half alive and barely kicking) from Canada. Maybe it's because of lack of tradition or the overall low consumption in this country of fish, let alone creepy animals with lots of feet, that the Dutch lobster needs promotion. And care: there is always the danger that it will be pushed out of existence by escaped Canadian ones. One of the aims of the Foundation in charge (Stichting Promotie Oosterscheldekreeft) is to advance environmentally sustainable fishing methods. Diny Schouten (Het spek van slager Blom [Butcher Blom's Pork], 2003:81) hints at another: research and protecting measures.
All of this didn't darken our spirits. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, terns were diving into the water and we had fabulous lobsters, without even realising we helped sustaining the species by eating them.


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