The restaurant where I work doesn’t have specials. The only items subject to change on any given day are the house dips and the catch of the day.
The other day a repeat customer came in and asked after the catch of the day, the Atlantic salmon. He first asked if it was local, which was easy to answer given our inland location.
He then asked where it came from. Having been a member of Slow Food I understand the importance of food provenance and also eating regionally and seasonally. Now I’m not a fish or seafood expert by any means, but I told him that I assumed it would be Australian and most likely from Tasmania.
The next question was whether it was wild, and I responded that I thought it would be farmed. You see I’ve met people from Tasmania who are involved in aquaculture and fish farming. Plus on one holiday there, I saw the fish farms from a distance.
I offered to check with the chef, which the customer then asked me to do. Unfortunately I didn’t get a particularly forthcoming answer from the chefs. They said “Well where is the Atlantic?”. I pride myself on my geography, so I know that it is the ocean between the Americas and Europe and Africa.
So I went back to the customer, explained the geography lesson I’d received from the kitchen and he was appeased. It was as though he knew that all along and was testing me. I must say I felt a little foolish. But now I just feel foolish because my research shows that I was right in the first place.
Salmon was first introduced to Australia in the 1800s, with eggs arriving on sailing ships, for sport fishing, though it wasn’t particularly successful. Then in the 1960s, eggs from Canada were brought in to the Snowy River Mountain Hydroelectric Scheme lakes, however it was too warm for them to establish a colony.
Tasmania has been farming salmon, Atlantic salmon, since the mid 1980s. Though it may be an introduced species, just because its name is reminiscent of its origin doesn’t mean that’s where the only ones come from. It is not as specific to one region as Parma ham or Champagne.
So eat Atlantic salmon and know that it’s Australian, farmed and good for you.
I found my information about how Sammy the Atlantic Salmon found his way to Australia on these websites: