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Describing fish...


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#1 Zaarin

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 11:06 AM

I hate fish. In fact, I hate anything that comes out of the sea except for shrimp and crab. But my story is set in a Neolithic fishing village where a good 90% of the diet consists of things like salmon, halibut, herring, whiting, kelp/edible seaweed, sea urchin/sea urchin eggs, geoducks, razor clams, chitons--all cooked in delicious eulachon oil. And before I get my hopes up for the other 10%--mostly marine mammals like seals and sea lions, shore birds, occasionally land game like deer, and various berries--that's cooked in eulachon oil too. So, given that I hate the taste, smell, and texture of fish but my MC has grown up with it his entire life, could someone give me some pointers on how to describe these things as something pleasant rather than gag-reflex-inducing? ;)



#2 jr9701

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Posted 16 June 2015 - 07:09 AM

If seeing fish is something you havent done why not look at a photograph? If you have enough of an imagination to write a manuscript, I dont think you'll have much trouble describing some slimey fish.



#3 LucidDreamer

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Posted 16 June 2015 - 07:35 AM

Check out food bloggers on Youtube -- search for some that might be making seafood dishes. (Some specialize in that). They will probably describe the tastes, textures, etc. in some detail.



#4 elysezane

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Posted 16 June 2015 - 04:23 PM

Flaky and succulent


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#5 Zaarin

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Posted 16 June 2015 - 04:52 PM

If seeing fish is something you havent done why not look at a photograph? If you have enough of an imagination to write a manuscript, I dont think you'll have much trouble describing some slimey fish.

Oh, I've seen fish. I live at the ocean, and my mom loves fish. I just don't like eating it.

 

Check out food bloggers on Youtube -- search for some that might be making seafood dishes. (Some specialize in that). They will probably describe the tastes, textures, etc. in some detail.

Nice idea; I hadn't thought of that. :D

 

Flaky and succulent

Thanks!



#6 KC Rivers

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Posted 17 June 2015 - 09:00 AM

Lucid had a really good idea. Pinterest might also have recipes and descriptions that would help, or at least get you to blogs that would have them. I'm not a big fish-eater myself, so I feel your pain.



#7 Nikita

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Posted 18 June 2015 - 10:09 AM

Tender and falls apart in your mouth.  Also, I don't know if you're set on having everything cooked in oil, but smoked fish - especially smoked salmon - is fantastically delicious.  I would describe it as having a savory, smokey flavor.  Definitely mouth-watering.



#8 Zaarin

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Posted 18 June 2015 - 11:10 AM

Lucid had a really good idea. Pinterest might also have recipes and descriptions that would help, or at least get you to blogs that would have them. I'm not a big fish-eater myself, so I feel your pain.

Thanks!

 

Tender and falls apart in your mouth.  Also, I don't know if you're set on having everything cooked in oil, but smoked fish - especially smoked salmon - is fantastically delicious.  I would describe it as having a savory, smokey flavor.  Definitely mouth-watering.

I'm pretty certain smoked salmon is involved as well, especially for winter and traveling (still researching). Thanks. :)



#9 Cez

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Posted 21 July 2015 - 04:00 AM

My grandfather loves fishing. Now and then he brings us a few 'fresh' ones, urgh... with eyes... (get a bucket.)

 

There's really something about holding a fresh fish, you'd be surprised at how soft the scales can be and they're actually beautiful.

 

Don't forget the smell. I won't say it stinks, but the fishy smell is real strong.

 

I love snoek. Where I live it's tradition to eat it with sweet potatoes and bread with grape jam. The perfect combination.



#10 Zaarin

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Posted 22 July 2015 - 12:26 PM

raw Fish meat is firm, flaky and smells fresh. Often white especially among fresh water, it can also take on a red color( the other red meat) Like salmon for example.  The fillets are washboard like in texture on the side with no scales it feels just like holding a piece of beef when it is raw.  Upon cooking good fresh fish will give off such a minor odor as the aromatics and spices will only be smelled.  older fish smells worse sometimes infecting kitchens for a few days.  Sometimes the meat has a fish odor but only when old.  piles of whole uncleaned fish will start to smell fishy immediately and also dry out and turn leathery fast.  Butter and other cream sauces are popular for baked or brased fish, recipes are endless.  A good pieace of fish meat has little if no smell, it should be firm not squishy, a thumbprint should bounce back out.  it can show some internal networkings but they will cook up.

That's very thorough! Thank you. :)



#11 arcangie

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Posted 17 August 2015 - 06:12 AM

Fish is often air dried or salt cured to save for winter use. Norway is a big producer of baccala (salt cured ) and stoccafisso (air dried) which are both cod.  Baccala is consumed in Italy and Portugal.  Stoccafisso in Italy. 

 

Anchovies are also salt cured.

 

In Iceland they bury fish the dig it up and eat it.  I'm not sure if that's done in winter but probably.  In Sardinia and Corsica they dry fish eggs and grate them on pasta, it's called bottarga. Sometimes it has a smokey flavor. 

 

Fish is not only consumed fresh.  Many people say the best meat of a fish is the cheek muscles. 

 

Consider also fish soup.  Some gelatins are made of fish broth.  Gold leafers traditionally used gelatin made from fish to apply gold leaf to the bollo.

 

I hope this helps.



#12 Zaarin

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Posted 17 August 2015 - 12:16 PM

Fish is often air dried or salt cured to save for winter use. Norway is a big producer of baccala (salt cured ) and stoccafisso (air dried) which are both cod.  Baccala is consumed in Italy and Portugal.  Stoccafisso in Italy. 

 

Anchovies are also salt cured.

 

In Iceland they bury fish the dig it up and eat it.  I'm not sure if that's done in winter but probably.  In Sardinia and Corsica they dry fish eggs and grate them on pasta, it's called bottarga. Sometimes it has a smokey flavor. 

 

Fish is not only consumed fresh.  Many people say the best meat of a fish is the cheek muscles. 

 

Consider also fish soup.  Some gelatins are made of fish broth.  Gold leafers traditionally used gelatin made from fish to apply gold leaf to the bollo.

 

I hope this helps.

Very helpful, thanks. :)



#13 Litgal

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Posted 17 August 2015 - 04:54 PM

I will make a pitch for not over-describing food (or anything for that matter). If the description is not essential to setting the scene or moving the plot forward we don't need it. The amount of new writers who over describe is legion. 


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#14 arcangie

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Posted 17 August 2015 - 05:20 PM

Litigal, I agree but it depends on what story. 

 

When I read Neolithic, I thought of all the ways to conserve food.  If Zaarin doesn' like fish, doesn't eat it at all, he/she might not know that fish could be dried.  It's just what came to mind.  The Neolithic would have different ways to conserve food than we do currently.  Now I'm going to look up Neolithic.



#15 Zaarin

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Posted 17 August 2015 - 06:12 PM

I will make a pitch for not over-describing food (or anything for that matter). If the description is not essential to setting the scene or moving the plot forward we don't need it. The amount of new writers who over describe is legion. 

Definitely. You have to find a balance between providing concrete details when necessary and not bombarding your reader with trivialities.

 

Litigal, I agree but it depends on what story. 

 

When I read Neolithic, I thought of all the ways to conserve food.  If Zaarin doesn' like fish, doesn't eat it at all, he/she might not know that fish could be dried.  It's just what came to mind.  The Neolithic would have different ways to conserve food than we do currently.  Now I'm going to look up Neolithic.

Indeed. From what I understand, the First People of the Pacific Northwest generally either smoked fish, dried it, or kept it in eulachon or seal oil (or, if available, whale oil).






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