Archives for category: Work

some of the time: we’re heading into the wetter and much slimier part of the season, so it’s back to the wellys! Sporting dresses and skirts topped (or bottomed?) with heels tends to be the strangest thing my customers get to see when they come by my work. At least once a day I hear the comment of either “you don’t look like you work at a seafood store,” or “I could never wear heels here!” I smile, and take it as a compliment. I adhere to the code of dressing for the position I want, not necessarily the position I have. To that end, I have no business in a seafood store, let alone at a fillet table wielding a knife the length of my forearm… but I love it!

Sporting my two inch closed toe heels, I deftly fillet and butterfly fish, cluster crabs, and help my customers select what they would like for dinner. There is a fine tuned art and love I have for the filleting and seafood preparation that is rivaled only by the Japanese and their treatment of sushi. I can fillet a #180lb halibut, a #50+ salmon, butterfly the tiniest trout, and maintain one of the highest recovery rates at my work, and I always credit one thing: love and respect for the food you are going to put in your body. After all, it is going to be part of you, right?

Incorporating my work into my life (and body!) is a lot easier than for most, since all I have to do is eat the very fish I sell… which I do frequently! My home kitchen has become a test kitchen for just about everything that comes in, from rockfish, lingcod, black cod, and my favorite of late: Sanddabs! This year marks the first year we’ve carried these ingenious little wild bottom fishes, and good lord, their buttery flesh is not to be missed! I abused the butter on this one, constructing a meal out of a lemon, half a stick of butter, and local eats: local greens, locally handmade pasta even made with local flour, and some ‘dabs. These little guys are flat fish like flounder, but they are “fatter” in comparison, and, my oh my, they have the most peculiar odor when fresh: reminiscent of high molasses brown sugar. No kidding, brown sugar. Go smell a bag of brown sugar, then go smell a fresh dab. See? Told you so. Amazing, isn’t it?!

sanddabs with classic meuniere

Fresh Sanddabs for dinner!

With love, I put my heels on; with love, I prepare and eat; and with love I give you your fish. If I clustered your crab, filleted your fish, or picked you out the best halibut cheek, know that I did it with love. Not just because are you a customer who indirectly pays me my wage, you are loved and respected just the same as I love and respect the seafood I give you. The love of food and a well prepared meal is a common thread world wide. Food is love, culture, family, and home all wrapped in a beautiful bundle, much like a shrimp gyoza. I make the most of this simple philosophy: I view donning on my heels and dresses is much like the presentation of food, I’m bringing it all together in a neatly tied and pretty package. So don’t underestimate your local fishmonger in heels!

When people ask me where I work, the conversation goes like this:

Long lost friend asks, “so, where do you work these days?”

I reply, “at a fishery.”

“….And what do you do there?”

Being torn between listing off the things I do and highlighting the nasties,      I inevitably retort, “I sell fish.” ...and what do you do at your work?

...and what do you do at your work?

Travis G. pictured above doing what he does best. We are a loud, raucous, disgusting crew clad in olive green bibs, rubber boots, and blood.  This is the point where you may be dismayed, for my wardrobe’s sake, at what I do for a living. Although this seems horrifying, I am the first to admit I have not been on the production line since last year.  I typically moonlighted as a slime line hand, where I would bathe the fish once they had been headed, gutted, and scraped in a tub of water.  After about ten to fifteen fish through the pan, the water is crimson, and viscous with slime.  To keep things amusing on the slime line, we would throw the hearts that occasionally remain on the fish bodies back at the main processors in jest.  Thank goodness for the bibs, although your sides and elbows would still get blood-spattered.   More often than not, a bloody elbow was from a gentle, loving caress from a coworker with an ensanguined  knit glove.

So what do I do now at this little fish shop of horrors?  I sell the cleaned fish and talk to a lot of people.  I also fillet said fish, kill crabs both by cooking and by breaking them live into “clusters”, boss the few people under me around, update our website and facebook (yes, my humble fishery is on facebook), some cleaner parts of processing, buy and grade fish from the local tribal fishermen, put out an email publication, getting my toe dipped into graphic art, and last but not least, walk around looking cute handing out sass by the fist full to crew and customer alike.  I basically get to be myself all day, in attitude and dress.  That’s right.  I still wear heels here on occasion, when the mood strikes me.