Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fish Market, 2

This fellow's job is to clean the fish once you have chosen and paid for it at the main counter. We bought a kilo of cuttlefish for €7. Note how clean the water in his bowl is as he starts to work.
Basically, his technique is to pull open the top half of the cuttlefish and rip out its guts.

Then, splash, into the bowl of water to be rinsed off. The water has turned black because cuttlefish have a sack full of black ink that they use for defense like squid and octopuses. This ink is called "sepia" (the Italian word for cuttlefish is "seppia") and used to be an important natural dye used for writing, and as an additive in watercolours and oil paints.

Beginning in the 1880s, sepia tone was produced by adding a pigment to the positive print of a photograph. The pigment was made from the Sepia officinalis cuttlefish, found in the English channel. The chemical process converts any remaining metallic silver to a sulphide, which is much more resistant to breakdown over time. This is why many old photographs are sepia toned—these are the ones that have survived until today. Although sepia toning began as a printing method, today it is seen as a genre, much like black and white photography.

11 comments:

Vogon Poet said...

Very good, I like the part about sepia photography!

Hilda said...

Fascinating information about sepia. Thanks, Saretta! I learned something new again today.

I wish we had that kind of cleaning service in our markets. I enjoy cooking but not the cleaning and preparation that comes before it.

Tanya said...

Interesting...I've never heard of Cuttlefish before...his hands look like they've worked very hard.

Historelli said...

First the origins of Carats and now Sepia tone...!!!

Keep them coming, i love it!!!

Saretta said...

Glad you all enjoyed the post!

Tanya, I agree, his hands look like they have cleaned a lot of fish, years of fish...

marley said...

Very interesting. I'm not a fish lover so this job is not for me!

Ann said...

Fascinating. Had no idea that was where sepia came from.

MaCoBra said...

Interesting entry, I never heard of the sepia story. But I did clean cuttlefish, I have been a chef in my younger years. When I worked for a season in the Med I had to learn how to clean them. They are actually nice food!

Ming the Merciless said...

Thanks for the cool info on the squid ink and origin of the word sepia.

So how did you cook the squid? My mom used to stuff them with spiced meat and deep fry them. I also love the simple grilled squid served with a squirt of lemon juice and olive oil.

Saretta said...

Ming - my husband cooked them in tomato sauce. Good, but my favorite version is grilled with lemon juice.

Anonymous said...

Remember seeing a movie in Sepiatone. Don't remember the title but it had Nelson Eddy and Jeannette McDonald in it. Many a year ago.

Louis