Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Fishy Tale

Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to complain about the practice at your Edgewater venue of selling old fish.  You advertise on your web site that "we go fishing everyday."  Evidently this is not the case.

Several times I have brought home seafood that smells bad: I have returned scallops, rockfish, and cod.  Fortunately, the crab cakes have always been fresh.  So suspicious have I become that I now demand to smell fish before purchasing it.  Today (Saturday, noon) I stopped by, hoping to find something for dinner.  Most of the fish in the case looked old, so I asked about the dry scallops,which I smelled.  They emitted a foul, offensive odor, and I told the salesperson that Annapolis Seafood had no right selling decrepit fish to its customers.  I then asked to speak with the manager.

Initially, he suggested the problem was me, not the scallops ("they smell like that").  I informed him that I grew up fishing on the coast of California and that we regularly bought our fish from the local wharf; moreover, my father owned and ran restaurants.  I know the difference between fresh and putrid seafood.  The manager then admitted that these scallops came in on Thursday.  They were already three days old just from being in the shop; and who knows how long they were out of the water before being shipped to Annapolis Seafood!

Most troubling of all, the manager subsequently disclosed that a fresh shipment had come in that morning, which I asked to inspect.  These scallops had the proper briny scent: they smelled like the ocean, not a garbage heap.  Clearly, the manager hoped to pawn off the old scallops before putting out the new shipment.

This is appalling, especially given the claims on your web site.  Even if the bulk of your customers can't tell the difference (or are too embarrassed to make a fuss), you have no business misrepresenting your seafood.  As I said at the outset of this letter, this is not the first time I have encountered questionable fish at your establishment.

I will continue to purchase crab cakes from Annapolis Seafood but nothing else after today's experience, which I am also recording in my blog.  We have a dining club in my community, and I will alert folks to your dubious practices. I am also going to talk to chefs and caterers in town to see about alternative sources for seafood.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Deborah Payne Fisk
Associate Professor of Literature
Affiliate Professor of Theatre
American University

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