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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Leaving the Kiwis… Gimme the Aussies!

I’ve decided that being back in classes at Georgia Tech (all summer, now Fall semester) definitely does not encourage much in the way of extracurricular writing. GT? Go figure! Ha!!

The last of New Zealand (in and around Wellington):

Who rises at 5:30am to go see, smell, taste and photograph raw fish, crustaceans and bugs? I do! I do!
The Sydney Fish Market Tour adventure included donning bright orange reflective vests reminiscent of roadside workers…
First stop on the tour…learning about fish markets, fish mongers, fish, Dutch auctions, fish, cold slurries, more fish… In brief, the industry was deregulated about 50 years ago, and thanks to Sydneysiders preference and love from fresh fish, the Market has grown and grown! The SFM ranks as the second largest in the world, only outsold in volume by the Tokyo fish market. This, however, seems close in size by statistics, but the Tokyo market sells in two weeks what Sydney sells in one year. WOW! Interesting point, however--- the SFM uses a silent reverse (Dutch) auction that allows about 1,000 sales / hour versus the Tokyo fish market still uses traditional voice auctioning and is limited to around 200 sales / hour. Imagine the Tokyo possibilities.

We followed our guide as she peaked in boxes, crates, and styrofoam containers, randomly pulling out lots of still alive and some headless creatures! I lost track of all the fish, and started naming them Slimy, Funky, Spot… For instance, some fish were simply beautiful, then we’d see some gnarly looking one like the eel like fish that was pasty cream and pink and dripped of slime and ooze. (Ymmm, counldn’t wait for breakfast!) Over at the crustacean pen, the animals must be alive and fresh, and the buyers argue with the market workers on how fresh the crabs are, and how vigorously they are kicking their legs and claws. Pretty hilarious scene as buyers give a little prod to a crab, then argue it is not kicking enough. It is a scene! This pen also sees lots of crabs trying to make a run for it with tied up claws, as I saw two crabs literally scampering away between two Styrofoam boxes. They were eventually caught and put back in crab prison to await some restaurant’s crab tank. And my dinner plate.
SUCH gorgeous patterns
The sushi den – cool place. The auction is still conducted in original voice format, and the prices are high. I saw for the first time a whole yellowfin tuna, and now understand that the yellowfin truly has bright yellow fins! Apparently bluefin is an amazingly highly prized fish, and is rarely to never seen in the SFM. For instance, if a bluefin tuna is caught in Australian or New Zealand waters, a helicopter is called in and the bluefin is immediately taken to the Tokyo markets for maximal high prices.

Finally we left the cold wet fish, and headed outdoors to the wharf. Five out of out of the seven main fishing men brothers (Bagnato family), a sixth married a Bagnato sister, and the seventh just somehow squeaked his way into the Sydney fish monopoly.
The "yellow fin" of Yellow Fin tuna
Alas the tour was over; we all shed our stunning bright orange vests and strolled back to the cafes, counters and cold seafood counters lining both sides of a good 500 feet of indoor walkway. They buy fresh, sell and prepare fresh, and you eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Delish! All of us settled on our gratuitous coffee/tea and made the (slightly fishy) stroll back to a different species’ reality.
It was a good morning.

Pictures Sidney Fish Market:

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