Archaeology digs uncover history, cultures, people, lifestyles and more. They’re usually painstakingly detailed and timely. When you go to the Gulf coast, it doesn’t take much digging to realize how the history, culture, people and their lifestyles are shaped and influenced by the Gulf Coast waters. While I kind of knew this, I really didn’t ‘know’ it until I dug deeper spending about a couple of days immersed in seafood and learning more about the waters, the history, the catches, processing and marketing of American wild caught shrimp and more. I learned that seafood like shrimp, oysters, crabs and more really do have a ‘heart’ when they call the Gulf waters ‘home’.
So, how did my path and the Gulf waters coincide? A couple of years ago, I was recognized as a Top 100 Blogger by Eat Gulf Seafood—probably because many of my posts about life and recipes reflect my lifestyle of living right on the water in the LowCountry of South Carolina. Yes, it’s a world that affords us the freshest of seafood, be it shrimp, flounder, trout, oysters, clams and more, when the seasons are right. And, with just a well-worn and traveled john boat, crab traps, fishing rods and other tools, we can eat about as fresh and local as fresh and local can get. What I like to dub ‘eating close to the earth.’ Joining other bloggers in New Orleans started 48 hours of intense exploration into seafood!
Probably the most compelling take away from this excursion that I think slammed me in the face, and what I hope to convey to you that is important, is the heated passion and love that goes into the life and craft of those who work in the seafood industry. It’s akin to generations of families in a trade or industry where the work seems to permeate the DNA—farmers, ranchers and fishermen, and I reckon women, too—pass down to their children and grandchildren not only tangible inheritances, but, more importantly, skills and tools that allow them to keep the American dream of eating local, eating close to the earth, alive.
This unbridled passion is reflected in the people who work in the industry from those who don rubber boots as they shrimp and fish to the processors and government agencies in these Gulf Coast states that are charged with protecting the vast waters that produce so much wild and plentiful food. Their work is not taken lightly. My ‘people sniffer’ said to me that there seems to be a more noble reason for doing what they do—yes, economy and money are important, but my psychological and emotional ‘litmus test’ regarding the folks (from various walks along the seafood path) I met said to me, ‘These people are local, these are people who’ve grown up in and around these Gulf states, these are people are here for the right reasons—certainly, no quick money carpetbaggers looking for short cuts and easy ways to reap, and maybe rape, the water’s treasures.”
Eat Gulf Coast Seafood and governmental agencies want us, the American people, to know that these waters are ours and from it comes bountiful catches—food that is rich in nutrition. Food that lives naturally in habitats that ensure distinct and immense flavor like none other. And, believe me, these 48 hours were packed with plentiful samples—shrimp, oysters, crab, black drum, grouper, red fish and more—yes, I tasted the difference. My palate could discern a tender flavorful moist shrimp that was spawned and grew in salt water versus one that was farm raised halfway around the world.
It’s obvious to me that in my Bohemian Bold culinary style and quest to ‘eat close to the earth’ I’ll inspect more closely the origins of my seafood. I’ll ask questions whether I’m grocery shopping or dining—does this seafood come from the warm Gulf waters or is it truly local. If so, I, and you, can know what we’re getting in two important ways. One, we’ll be guaranteed goodness. And, two we’ll be able to feel and connect emotionally and sensually to the steps of getting the seafood from the waters to us, the consumers—the scent of the briny waters, the majesty of the large impressive boats, the calloused hands of the hard-working and committed people who call the Gulf Coast home and who continue to shape for decades and centuries the continuation of an American dream—fresh wild caught seafood for all.
Food is so much more than just eating—it’s a dining experience that evokes neurogastronomical thoughts, emotions and memories, which nourish the spirit and soul. Yes, food does have ‘heart’~~it’s that tangible feeling of knowing you’re putting the right stuff in your body that makes all the difference in life. Here’s to eating close to the earth and with #eatgulfseafood that has ‘heart’ and soul! ***clink clink***