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Archive for August 14th, 2009

I’ve eaten much more fish in the past two months than I normally eat in a year.  I’ve been lucky enough to visit these seafood capitals of the northeast.  Eating locally on an island is pretty easy at this season.  For Nantucket, in particular, striking a balance between conservation and sustainability on the one hand and the inevitable conspicuous consumption of a resort island on the other, is especially important, and tricky, because people come for the timelessness of its beaches and weathered shingle cottages, but also come to vacation and to do all of the spending and  consuming that entails. My Nantucket Quaker ancestors rode the wave of one tide of American capitalism centuries ago, and helped to whale nearly all of the sperm whales out of the Atlantic.  The great white whale is now a threatened species.   Bluefish are abundant, due to regulated sport fishing, and stripers are vulnerable, so I’ll savor them when they’re fresh and local.  We’ve come too late in the year for Nantucket Bay scallops, the sweetest, smallest morsels in the sea.  When I worked at a restaurant in Somerville, near Boston, those of us in the kitchen snuck a couple of raw ones when the small, highly priced shipment came in.   They have a brief season, anticipated by seafood lovers, and hopefully protected by sustainable harvesting practices.

We saw some small-scale fishermen working quickly the other night, just before the dinner hour, to clean and portion these tunas.

fish cutting

albacore

A large vegetable and flower farm here has turned to sustainable energy,

turbine

but I also saw some spray tanks attached to the tractors.  Their seasonal produce, displayed in a bountiful tumble of color, is wonderful, though.   There were at least four kinds of eggplant; I bought bunches of the Japanese and the “Fairy Tale” varieties, along with a pile of pattypan squash, and roasted them last night (it was chilly outside).  (Olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh rosemary, 425 for 40 or so minutes.)

eggplants

pattypan

Another local institution I like to frequent when I’m here is the bread bakery and sandwich shop, Something Natural.  They bake hundreds of loaves daily, and construct hundreds of jumbo sandwiches for a steady stream of people.  Their chocolate chip cookies, with dark chocolate chunks and a chewy-crispy buttery crumb, are the best.

something nat.

bread
When the endless possibilities for people watching turn tedious, it’s fun to find the animals.  We watched swallows gathering on the wires, and the flock seemed to grow by the hundreds every few minutes.

swallows

more

more

even more

even more

Bunnies hop out of the bushes, and scurry back in when they see Jack coming.

bunny

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