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The American eel, found in more freshwater bodies in Rhode Island than any other fish, is a slimy and serpentine creature that emerges from underwater lairs to feed at night. It is the only fish in North America that spends its life in freshwater but migrates to the open ocean to procreate. It reproduces only once in a lifetime of 30 years or more and then promptly dies.
In this entertaining and informative natural history of eels, Richard Schweid explores how people around the world cook, eat, harvest, harm, protect, and study this fascinating creature.
Join Richard, a Charlestown and Madrid-based resident, as he educates us about one of Rhode Island’s most important sea creatures.
As this engaging culinary and natural history reveals, the humble eel is indeed an amazing creature. Every European and American eel begins its life in the Sargasso Sea–a vast, weedy stretch of deep Atlantic waters between Bermuda and the Azores. Larval eels drift for up to three years until they reach the rivers of North America or Europe, where they mature and live as long as two decades before returning to the Sargasso to mate and die. Eels have never been bred successfully in captivity.
Consulting fisherfolk, cooks, and scientists, Schweid takes the reader on a global tour to reveal the economic and gastronomic importance of eel in places such as eastern North Carolina, Spain, Northern Ireland, England, and Japan. While this rich yet mild-tasting fish has virtually disappeared from U.S. tables, over $2 billion worth of eel is still eagerly consumed in Europe and Asia each year. The book also includes recipes, both historic and contemporary, for preparing eel.
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