Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Eat a Lionfish - Save a Reef!

Last weekend I went fishing with my friends from Reward Fishing Fleet out of Miami Beach Marina in South Beach.We usually catch a mixed bag that typically includes snapper, grouper, jacks and mackerel, as well as bonita, skipjack and blackfin tuna, sailfish, mahi mahi, sailfish and the occassional wahoo, as well as jacks, runners, grunts, porgies, yellow tails and reef fish of all descriptions.

I was fishing for mutton snapper (and caught two - see above) with a nine foot leader and a four ounce sinker  when I felt a small tug on my line.
When I reeled it in, I discovered that I had caught my first Lionfish, an invasive species from the Indo-Pacific with venomous spines which is decimating the reefs of South Florida.

This lionfish was introduced to South Florida waters more than 20 years ago by hobbyists who were appalled to discover that the colorful aquarium fish was a voracious predator which would quickly devour all the smaller fish in their aquariums.
As far as we can tell, the adult lionfish - which averages about 1 lb, though some species can get much larger, has no natural predators in South Florida waters.
Until now.
In an effort to protect our reefs, which are already under enormous pressure from over fishing, other invasive species, global warming and environmental degradation, state and federal regulators are now encouraging divers and anglers to catch and kill as many lionfish as they can.
So I asked the captain to clip the spines (where the toxins are located) and fillet the fish for me, which he did - very carefully.

To my delight I discovered that lionfish fillets are delicious, similar to grouper, and that it makes a great sashimi and seviche.
So now I am going to try to target lionfish, and help rid the reefs of these tasty pests.
A word of warning. The sting of a lionfish is very painful and can be quite dangerous. The toxin is still active even when the fish is dead, so be very careful when you clean the fish. You will find this website - Lionfish Hunter - full of safety tips and techniques - and some very nice recipes.

You may also enjoy these videos on how to clean a lionfish which I found on You Tube on how to clean and detoxify a lionfish.

My recipe for Lionfish Seviche.

Catch, clean and chop 1 lb of lionfish fillets into 1/4 inch pieces,
Cover with fresh lime juice
Add garlic, cilantro, red onions and hot peppers to taste.
Marinate and chill for about one hour.

Serve with salsa - or over a lime sorbet or citrus granita.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Yoga, lunch, music, dance, blackberries, beach, and rain

Saturday July 28, 2012

We came across a beautiful bride who got stuck by rain. Later they got her an umbrella and she rushed away. 

  • As the ferry landed at the Massachusetts Bay Lines dock, my Turkish friend and I rushed through out the crowd trying to get into a nearby shelter from the falling heavy drops of rain. We were coming back from Spectacle Island where we had lunch on professor Bruce's house-boat, "Verandah" and walked along the whole beach of the Island. We had blackberries we picked from the trees on the Island and we enjoyed watching people dance on the music played by the band professor Bruce hired to entertain people who came to spend the weekend on such a beautiful Island that once upon time used to be a trash dump. 
  • Our trip started at 10:30 a.m. as we got on the train towards Long Wharf. In the middle of our trip, the train driver announced that we had to move into another train since the train we were on had a problem. The system here always surprises me. They are so quick in fixing things and finding other alternatives to keep the wheel moving. In Yemen, it takes forever to fix a thing. That's why Yemenis are so patient that they resign to the tough conditions of living. Anyway, as we arrived to the dock, we got our tickets and boarded on the boat. I got used to sailing without getting seasick. My first trip on a boat to Cape Cod was a disaster but after that trip, I enjoyed all my other trips on the sea. Once we got our feet on Spectacle Island, we took some pictures and started searching for fun. People were all around: some on the beach, others on their boats, and many other visitors were just walking up the drumlin summit. 

My friend after the Yoga class

It was such a wonderful weather. We joined people who were practicing Yoga. To tell the truth, I never thought Yoga is that difficult. It really needs a lot of effort to perform those slow motion postures. Well, it was a great experience, though. After Yoga, the Island seemed to be more lively. People started dancing on the rhythm of the music playing by the band on the boat. Those people really know how to have fun. We also dance, but only men would dance in public. As for women in my country, they show their talent in wedding parties before other women. Dancing, singing, and even drawing are considered to be forbidden by some Islamist clergies especially when they are done by a woman. They say God is beauty and he loves beauty. Nonetheless, they say these forms of art are forbidden. They must have Schizophrenia, I guess.  I guess those clergies would say enjoying watching people dancing is forbidden as well. Well, I committed a sin and enjoyed the show. 

Tt's lunch time. Thanks God we're invited for lunch on Verandah. That would save us some green papers. Thanks to Professor Bruce for the delicious food he prepared. Wait, I thought he would offer some fresh fish but we got chicken and beef instead. The food was so tasty that I forgot all about the thought of fresh fish. Living in a house boat seems to be interesting. I love nature. The sea always haunts me with its endless wavy blue carpet. It's another world that's hiding a lot deep inside. 
Those people never get tired of dancing. We stopped for a while before having our walk all around the Island. We came across some trees of blackberries. My friend picked us some. They were very tasty. She made me a necklace from some pinned leaves. That reminded me of the old days when I used to go to my village and pick up flowers from the mountains. I would make necklaces and bracelets with those flowers for my cousins and I. Those were the days. 

It's just amazing to sit and look

As we came to the other side of the Island, people had started moving to the dock and getting ready to board on the boats. We were supposed to wait until the 6 o'clock ferry, but luckily professor Bruce could get us on another that was just leaving. As we got on board, it started raining. It was cool. The day was coming to an end and the people looked so happy. We knew that we are going to get wet since we didn't bring our umbrellas. Yet, it wasn't a big deal. We rushed into the crowd of people and made our way to the train station but as we did, we came across a beautiful bride who got  stuck by the rain. Later they got her an umbrella and she rushed away. I couldn't miss shooting her with my camera while she did so. That was something so beautiful to end the day with.  To see a bride is definitely much better than coming across, let say, a crow. As we got to the train station I noticed a man playing music and in front of him there was a box and a poster says: "GREECE BAILOUT FUND". That was so funny at least to me and something worthy to shoot. When we arrived home, we were wet, tired and happy. 

" Spectacle Island: From a Trash Dump to a National Treasure

"It's trash!" I said while watching professor Bruce discussing with his students about the 
artifacts they've found on the Beach of Spectacle Island. He was calling these artifacts “TREASURE”. 
I think the word “trash” got him mad because he seriously looked me in the eye and made it aloud enough to hear every single syllable of the four English words he uttered.

In a couple of minutes, he gave me a lecture on how this Island become a national park and how many decades it took for these seaglass and artificats to become a national treasure. A treasure that's meant for decorating Spectacle Island Beach and for visitors to enjoy while on land. I came to know you cannot take any piece with you home. 

One cannot believe that such a beautiful Island used to be a trash dump. Once determination set, man can bring life back to nature. I have seen many beautiful things on this Island. I’ve even tasted the wild blackberries growing on its drumlin summit. They were very delicious. “How could an Island that was covered and built up by dirt produce such tasty blackberries?” I thought. 

Very tasty

I found many artifacts and interesting seaglass. Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky enough to get a blue marble. Yet, what I learnt about this Island was much valued to me. To set one’s goals and find out what is the best way to implement the ideas into actions. One can learn from others and try to figure out other ways on other lands that can bring back life to people and nature. I found the spirits of people who had a mission to make a difference walking along with me on the Spectacle Island beach and whispering into my ear, “God is beauty and He loves beauty.”


Monday, August 6, 2012

A Final Post about a Striper not a Stripper!

On our last day of class we had the rare treat of watching Professor Berman fillet a striped bass.  Although the star of the show was supposed to be the bass I found myself wandering around the huge kitchen that the school of hospitality let use use for this class.

Our striped bass was very fresh caught less than 12 hours before it came to rest on these cutting boards.  We could tell that the fish was fresh because of the clarity of the eye and the fact that it still had the glossing coating on its skin which is secreted to protect the fish from the water that it lives in.

 To fillet the fish, Prof. Berman started with making a vertical incision behind the gills, he then took his fillet knife and set it flush with the back bone resting along the rib bones.  He pushed his knife through to the anterior side and worked his knife down the length of the fish to remove the fillet.

After both of the fillets were removed from the body of the fish Berman went digging around to see if we could find any remains of what the fish had eaten before it was  caught.  Sure enough we did find some white worm like creatures that the bass had eaten before he was caught.  Once we had broken the fish down the fillets were removed Berman proceeded to remove the skin.  After the fillets were broken down they were sliced very thin and served sashimi style with some soy and wasabi.  I was amazed about how fresh the fish was.  It really did smell like the ocean.  After having a sushi scare a mere week below I passed on the sashimi and waiting for the ceviche.  The ceviche was the striped bass marinated in citrus juice.  While the fish sits in the citrus juice the acid actually cooks the fish.  It was very fresh and tangy when I tried it.  Very tasty.

For my experiment I took my piece of the fish fillet home with me and took the simple route.   I got a skillet nice and hot and added a little bit of olive oil.  I simple seasoned the fish with salt and pepper and put it in the skillet for about 3 minutes on a side to be sure an not dry out the fish.  I then removed the fish from the pan and set it on a plate to rest while I deglazed the pan with some white wine to which i added some tarragon herb butter to the wine and melted it down in the wine until it thickened into a nice pan sauce which I poured over the fish.  Simple yet delicious and to think it was caught in what used to be one of the dirtiest urban harbors in the country.

Thank you for a unique and interesting learning experience.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Last Quiz - Fresh from the Sea

1. Brenda  Rivera
2. Bruce Berman
3. The last class experience

As we all know, all good things come to an end. This last class was bitter sweet because even though I learned so much about the Boston Harbor from Professor Bruce Berman, met great people, and came out with a fabulous tan! it was time to get back to the real world and get back to Family, Work and more homework.

Watching and learning about the Striped Bass was yet another great experience that I take with me. I have to say it wasn't the most pleasant to view the fish being split open and learning in detail, front row status, of what is inside the fish. However, he did taste rather delicious in all ways (sushi, ceviche, and baked) 

My experiment with the Striped Bass was to cook it and see if my 2 year old would like it. It was very simple, I placed it on the pan with a little olive oil and lemon pepper salt. Placed it over white rice and corn. I have to tell you it was such a fresh taste! My husband and I try to eat fish every Friday. I have to say that this fish tasted like no other. 

I want to thank the professor for having such passion for the Boston Harbor and giving us the gift of teaching us a portion of it. In the seven days we spent together, I can only imagine that we only covered  a small percentage to what he knows. I also want to say how great it was to meet everyone from the different cultures and backgrounds. It was really nice to see that even though the world is at war with finances, race, global warming, politics, domestic violence, child abuse, etc. we all managed to come together and learn about this little place we call the Boston Harbor. 

Even though we didn't get the ticket to go back at a discounted rate, I have already discussed it with my family to take a boat ride and experience the Islands. 

I look forward to seeing some of you in the next year on campus. 

have a great rest of your summer!!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Weekend of Ceviche

I took home the quart of ceviche and decided to let it sit for at least 24 hours before trying it again to see the effect of the acids on the fish. I thought that my first tasting of the bass in lemon and lime juice, where it had only sat for a few minutes, would be much different than my second tasting. The first time I tried it the fish was firm and chewy, not very different in texture from the sashimi. According to The Kitchn, "The citrus interacts with the proteins in the fish, causing it to become opaque and firm...A brief 15 minute dunk in citrus juice will affect just the surface of the fish, giving you a 'rare' preparation." However, contradictory to my thesis, after letting it sit for 24 hours it became more mealy and broken down. Instead of being cooked more, it was softer and less appetizing than before. The cilantro was also very wilted which was not  After doing some research on different ceviche recipes I found that the lower the marinating time the better the ceviche will be. Most recipes suggested 30 minutes to an hour but never more than 24 hours since the fish will begin to break down in the acid and should probably not be consumed.

I had such a great time eating raw fish, it was truly an eye opening experience, especially for someone whose favorite food is sushi. Although I know sushi and sashimi are made with raw fish, it is really a different experience to watch the fish get fileted and cut up right in front of you then to eat that fish a few minutes later.

(Sorry for the delayed experiment results, but work ate up my schedule this weekend.)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Here today gone tomorrow

Our last day of class was spent discussing Striped Bass.  We discussed the issue of over fishing and conservation.  After prof Berman explained the history of the striped bass in Boston, I began to understand a little bit more about the severity of the conservation effort.  Explaining that the bass used to dominate the New England shore line filling the waters so think "you could walk on it."  Just a few short years ago, Prof Berman explained, The Striped Bass population was so over fished and under populated that you would be hard pressed to find one of  "keeping size."  Noting the stark contrast in the current situation from the past was really jarring. Our reading of the "Tragedy of the Commons" further explained the intricacies of the situation.  The striped bass issue is a problem that encompasses more than just evolution and extinction.  This is a complicated problem involving politics, public policy, personal interest, and financial gain.  On one hand we have the fisherman who rely in the striped bass as a their source of income, while the environmentalists fight for the existence of the species.     While the two sides of the issue battle it out, the poor striped bass hangs in the balance facing endangerment and extinction.    Ultimately what everybody wants is to have Striped bass in the future.  Unfortunately, finding a solution for the problem is a lot easier said than done.  By restricting fishing commercial fishermen loose out on profits, and recreational fishermen loose out on fun.  Subsequently, Bostonian touristic infrastructure misses out too because the charters cant bring tourists out to fish, and if the people aren't coming to fish, lower numbers of people are staying in the hotels and eating in the restaurants.  But at the same time, if the striper population is over-fished and depleted there will be no fish to catch or eat.  Not only does the striped bass population loose out so does everybody else.

  At the risk of using a cheesy saying, it is kind of a chicken or egg problem.  More realistically it is a cyclical problem that seemingly has no definite start or end.  It is up to the environmentalists to find a solution to the problem, the politicians to approve it, the law enforcement to enforce it and the fishermen (recreational and commercial alike) to abide by these rules.  It is so tricky because legislation are only relivant to one state at a time.  This is the problem we are dealing with right now and it is where the "Tragedy of the Commons" comes in to play.  If one state allows unlimited fishing and another allows a restricted amount it is totally unfair for the people who have a restricted amount because the striped bass that they are not catching in an effort to conserve the species is being caught a few miles away by other state's fishermen who had limited restrictions.  Totally a Tragedy of the Commons problem.  That was really a great reading, because it applies to so many issues people deal with in everyday life; especially issues involving public policy.  It seems in order to help one group of individuals another group must take the blow and miss out a little bit themselves.. ultimately the end result should be collective well being and harmony.  I am not sure where my political views are on that issue, but that is a whole other paper.  This is about the fish!  None the less, I think that was a great article to read because it used a micro issue and explained how it could and should be applied to macro issues.  Thumbs up!

So anyways, lets get to the hands on stuff--

The last portion of class was spent in the kitchen.  Prof B brought in a a 16.5 lb striper.  This striper was one that he had to buy because he could not catch one himself.  This is by no means a comment on Prof Berman's fishing skills it is more a comment on the wealth of stripers in the Boston Harbor.  Recounting the night and day's process of trying to catch a fish for the class, he demonstrated the conservation act in motion.  While it was perhaps disappointing for him not to bring in a self-caught fish for the class, I think we all appreciated and learned a little bit more about the conservation efforts.  Abiding by the rules of the fishing restrictions, Prof B was unable to produce a bass for us so he went to an accredited fish seller who sold him a legal fish.  This was the beautiful bass:
Gorgeous right?
A couple important things about this fish:  I dont know if you can see it in this picture, but it is important that you check the fish's lip for evidence of a hook.  If there is no evidence of a hook, that mean that your fish was caught by a net which is ILLEGAL!  This fish had a messed up lip so we knew that it was totally LEGAL!   Let the good times roll!!!!!!!!  Another interesting but important fact Prof B brought to light was that, these fish dont care who catches them or what they do with them after they are killed, it just matters on the large scheme to the species.  The number of fish that are taken out of the population weighs heavily on the species and this is why the environmentalists fight for the restrictions of the fishing of these fish.  It is all in an effort to conserve and protect this species.  
Though it doesn't matter per se what happens to the fish after it is caught and killed, Prof B commented that he has the upmost respect for animals and proceeded accordingly.  Taking care to dissect and fillet the fish he continued.  Check the pics!!!

  ^ Filleting the fish                          ^getting the stomach out (obvious source of bacteria)^ 

Cutting off yummy pieces of the fish he made sashimi. Raw fish served with pozu soy ginger and wassabi......It was delish!  Then curing the fish with citrus acids (lemon and lime) and adding red onion and cilantro, he also made ceviche.  Super yummy.  After we sampled the delectable delights from Chef Professor Berman's kitchen, we were given our own piece of striped bass to "experiment with."  

That night an an Olympic opening ceremony party, I cooked up my sliver of fish.  Coated in mayo salt and pepper I threw it on a well oiled hot hot hot grill.  

After this baby was cooked I put it on a plate with a bit of lemon an offered party guests a bit of this yummy cooked fish.  I also served up a Hefty plate of knowledge about the Boston Harbor.  Initially horrified that I would offer them something that came from the Boston Harbor, these old time Bostonians were happy to sample the fish after I told them about the clean-up effort and the current clean status of the once dreaded harbor.  They were pleasantly surprised! 
(Just a side note: They were crazy and ill informed, because they were already eating stuffed clams, and copious amounts of lobster salad bought at James Hook......HELLOOOOOOOO?!?!?!) 

Anyways here's a picture of my end product: 


First I served it simply with Lemon, then thought it would be extra delicious with my favorite bean salad.  It was delicious.  So delicious I will share the recipe, because this stuff can be served with anything and eaten at anytime.  Amazing with chips, fish, chicken, steak, eggs, etc.  Good morning, noon and night!

Bean Salad:
2 cans of black beans
2 cans of corn               < Both strained and rinsed
2 avocados (chopped)
1 Mango (chopped)
Salsa fresca
Spicy garlic chili Siracha (if you like it hot!)

Combine and enjoy!
(I know it sounds like a lot of food, and in makes quite a large batch, but trust me your going to need it!)  Bring to your next BBQ or pot lock.  It will be an instant success!!!!!!!

                                                                           --Some Chinese cooking instructor lady


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Stripe Bass

Friday was our Snails to Whales last class and we were able to not only discuss the most common fish in New England but we were also able to cut open, dissect, and eat our classes stripe bass. However before the knives were taken out of the box we discussed as a class the importance of saving this beautiful fish. Not to long ago the stripe bass was very close to becoming extinct, which to me is unthinkable. Like many recreational fisherman in Massachusetts my favorite fish to catch during the summer is the stripe bass, and to lose this fish because over fishing would be tragic not just for the sport, but because this fish is unlike any other and it is such important creature in the ocean food chain.

Professor Berman told us that before they changed the law every state had its own rules and regulations about recreational and commercial fishing. Looking at these rules now its pretty pathetic to put these in place and not team up as states because the stripe bass like many other fish in the sea does not stay in one place. They migrate from the tip of northern Maine to the coast of Virginia. To have so many different rules just does not make sense. With the help of some very smart groups of people luckily we were able to save the stripe bass population from dwindling down any lower. Just as planned after five years of banned stripe bass fishing there was a massive population increase. Today though it seems that we are begging to see the population decreasing again. With the knowledge that we have it is our job to  make sure we the stripe bass population doesn't fall again.

Now to the good stuff. After our discussion we made our way over to a much better suited classroom for dissecting our stripe bass. We first rubbed our fingertips up and down the fish to feel the smoothness as you went from head to tail, and the sharpness from tail to head. The fish had a slime like texture that helps protect its body from the ocean. Then we looked at its eye ball and noticed that it was still clear meaning its freshness and that most likely had been caught only a few hours before our dissection. Then the Professor made a small incession cut down the backbone of the fish. After it was finally open we found small bits of fish remnants in the stomach of the striper. The large and small intestines were clearly identified and we were able to touch and feel the texture these organs.

After we cleaned up the fish we were able to eat the filet, which clearly was very good because almost every piece was gone within minutes. When I arrived back to my dorm friday night I decided that I would try to put my filet into the oven and cook the fish. Being the great cook that I am....... I put on some pepper and salt on my small pieces and left the fish in the oven for 30 minutes on the dot. I noticed very quickly that I overcooked my meal but nonetheless I continued. I took a lemon and tried to  squeeze as much juice out as possible. After I dipping my burnt salt and pepper filet I dipped the fish in lemon juice and ate my wonderful creation. I found out that I am not the best cook however I was very entertained about my whole experience in trying to cook my fish.

This class has been very enjoyable and I have definitely learned more then I ever expected to. I am extremely thankful for taking Snails to Whales and hope the best for all of you. Thank you for making the classes remember full and exciting.  

From the ocean to tacos!

On Friday we had our last class, and we focused on the striped bass.  We learned about how science provides the facts regarding the necessary factors for survival (food, habitat, number of female fish able to reproduce), and policies come out of how humans decide to support the necessary factors.  Personally, I would agree with Bruce that it doesn't matter whether it's the commercial or the recreational fisherman that have less to fish- what matters is that there are enough fish left over to produce future generations of fish.  I think that outlawing commercial fishing completely would be unfair to the commercial fisherman, their families and employees, and also to the people who want to eat the fish but aren't able to or aren't willing to fish themselves.  I also think that it would be unfair to outlaw recreational fishing because it would be unfair to the fisherman enthusiasts out there.  I think a happy medium between the two would be fair restrictions for both groups.  How we get to what the fair restrictions are is something better left to people with more expertise than I.

To finish up this field research class, we were able to experience an anatomy lesson.  I grew up with uncles and cousins who fish, and I was taught how to clean the fish I caught.  Still, a refresher was nice as it's been years since I've gone fishing.
Blue striped bass in all it's glory (18.5 pounds!)

 The guts of the fish, including the stomach.  The greyish brown long tubular things to the bottom left are from the stomach, and are partially digested fish.
 Another picture of the innards.  The lifted part on the head is where the gills are located.

After class, our homework was to complete an experiment with part of the fish.  I very gladly accepted this homework, and went home to make fish tacos for dinner.  I marinated the fish with a mixture of chili powder, oregano, chopped cilantro, red pepper, and a smidgen of olive oil.  After about 30 minutes, I tossed the mixture into an electric skillet with a little bit of oil on high heat, and quickly grilled the meat.  

I added flour tortillas, avocado slices, sour cream, hot sauce, sliced cabbage, and some lime.  Pair with a light summer beer (though Corona would have been better), and my feast was complete!

This class has been interesting to say the least, and I am excited to know more about the islands in the harbor.  The ease of the ferry and the available activities planned by the park rangers was great to learn about, and I look forward to spending time on the islands with my boyfriend and his young daughter for years to come.


Striped Bass Ceviche!!!!

In our last class our professor was talking about the different ideas and organization that are helping to save the striped bass. Our professor explained to us that the striped bass was endangered species.  Our professor explained that some ideas and law were developing to minimize the number of striped bass that people will fish. This allow the striped bass to have more babies because the striped bass need to be at least 28 inches in order for the fish man to keep it, allowing them to have babies at least twice in their life time.
As out professor explained to us it hard to save the striped bass because from Miami to Maine every state has different law to save the striped bass. If there was one law in every State will be easier to save the striped bass because could travel to another state and may fish more striped bass. This made me feels very sad because I wish my descendent to meet and eat the striped bass.
I took the head and part of the body and made a delicious “mariscada” that my dad enjoys eat it. As my last project I needed to cook a fillet of striped bass at my home. I made “Ceviche”. I left the fillet of the striped bass in lemon for more than 24 hours. I add tomato, reddish, red onion, cilantro, salt, and Tabasco. This was delicious, I always eat shrimp ceviche but this striped bass ceviche was the best. Thank professor for making this class a very interesting class and also for motivates us to Save the Harbor and the importance of taking care of animal and the ocean.

Striped Bass Ceviche 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Back to Basses

Prof. Berman gutted a fish today that was almost hunted to extinction.  That it survives and was available for purchase is a testament to how people can get together to preserve the commons.  Striped bass was the first fish to be protected by law in the United States and the first fish to be taxed.  Even so, overfishing and habitat destruction led to an alarming decrease in its numbers.  The states on the Eastern Seabord where striped bass can be found got together and hammered out a management plan that included a complete ban on striped bass fishing for five years.  Its numbers have since rebounded.

Prof. Berman sliced and diced our fish, showing us how to properly prepare fillets and giving us an opportunity to observe the anatomy of the fish.  We were offered sashimi (I declined) and ceviche, which I reluctantly tried.  We also took a piece of the fish home to prepare in whatever way we chose.

I want to thank Prof. Berman for an inspiring and interesting class.  I learned a lot about Boston Harbor and had a great time doing it.

Cutting out the fillets

The guts of the striped bass

Fillets of other small fish in the stomach of the striped bass

Pieces for us to take home

I added some masala powder to mine and fried it

Tap Water


     When I arrived at Boston Airport on August 22nd, 2011, I had no idea what Boston would offer me. All I wanted was to travel and get out from Yemen for a while. I hated it. I hated the way I led my life back home. I hated the poverty I see on its streets and homes. I hated the way men treat women. I hated the way parents treat kids. I hated my job and my employer. I hated my self and as a result I felt depressed and had doubts about everything around me. I could see no purpose to continue living and there were moments when I would think of those who committed suicide and try to put myself in their shoes. They must be strong enough to do it. I couldn’t. I was too weak to take my life away. It wasn’t due to the fear of what Islamists say about the sever torturing that would await for the one who commits a suicide rather it was my eagerness to lead a happy life while I’m still alive. Were my friend and cousin right about the decision they made? Were they too depressed to see the light of hope in their life? Was committing suicide the only option they had in order to get rid of their misery? What if they could’ve survived? Would that have made a difference and washed their misery away?

     Realizing the truth that death is my ultimate end, I chose to live. I chose to live my life with whatever packages fate brings me or takes away from me. I stopped thinking about my situation and tried to dismiss all my fears away. I started to think about the things I really want to do during my short stay in this life and do whatever it takes to achieve them. I wanted to go to USA and see how life is over there. Traveling abroad is considered to be a difficult issue for a Yemeni single woman due to cultural constrains. Traveling to USA is even more difficult due to the vast gap between its world and the Yemeni world. There were moments I doubted my ability to make it to USA but I never gave it up.

     Here I am in my apartment  in Boston typing this memo on my Mac, a lap top I dreamt of having it but never thought I would someday have it, and yes it has been more than ten months for my stay here studying at BU, meeting people from different parts of the world, taking courses I never thought I would take, and drinking water from the tap. An American friend who spent sometime in Yemen once told me he missed drinking from the tap. I was surprised to hear that.  I never thought that the tap water can be clean and safe to drink whether in Yemen or in any other country. He assured me it is clean and safe there in the United States and I wouldn’t fall sick if I drank it.
“I also want to drink water from the tap.” I said.
“Well, then come to the United States and you will”, He said.

     Now being here, every time I turn on the tap and drink water, I remember his talk about the tap water, and I feel the bliss the US citizens have. I wish I could bring such taps to my people.
There are a lot of things here people take for granted. Things people in Yemen are deprived from. For instance, water, power, parks and a public library where one can find new and old books to read and write a thesis.

     Words here signify their meaning. Clean means clean. Art reflects art in all its beautiful forms. Freedom has a taste; a sweet taste. In Yemen, words are arbitrary. They miss their meanings. “Clean” comes in ranks. “Art” has limitations. “Freedom” has a bitter taste if it actually exists.

     I still love this poor country. I am ready to give up my life, money and everything I have just to draw the smile back on her face. I hate this black cloak wrapped around her beauty. I hate these foreign shackles that restrict the motion of her harbors. I hate these foreign drillers digging deep in her womb. I hate seeing her bleeding in south and north. I hate seeing her own children slaughtering one another. I see her falling down; exhausted of all the stabs she has been receiving. She’s dragging me along with her into the dark hole of loss, but I resist. I have to resist. I hold a hand to the rope of faith and hope and with the other I try to drag her out of that hole of darkness. Between the rope and the hole my feet stand on a marsh of retard.  I feel them sinking as the social traditions, tribal notions, ignorance, and hatred draw them down. I still resist. 

Bass, Bruce and all good things must to come to an end.


The best was saved for last, we spent the first part of the class discussing Sea Bass. Professor Berman explained to us the national effort of the seacoast states to save America's most famous fish.
Striped Bass is a staple food, highly migratory and taste really good. It lives close to the coast from the Carolina's to Maine.

Striped  Bass is a protected fish by law, because of the nature of our government, each state has different fishing laws which made it hard to work collectively work to save the fish. To make matters more difficult, the overlap of the first 3 miles which is state water with that of the Federal government as well as the individuals approach to the issue was a big problem in the beginning. Luckily for the Striped Bass, the nations capital is located in the Atlantic ocean, hence it was easy to convince, show and win congressional support for this initiative as they were taking on beautiful trips to the sea to fish, eat and drink cold beers and cocktails to get them on board.

Professor Berman explained to us the three reasons why Strippers have been well managed:

1. Striped Bass is a popular fish, and it lives close to shores
2. Congressional and political support was fully behind the project
3. Science was available to translate this project into a reality

I am sad this great class has come to an end, I have been inspired by a passionate, cool, extremely open and accessible professor that deeply loves and cares about the Boston Harbor, nature and science.
It is passion that is the spark behind great things in history, it is passion that erected the great monuments if the renaissance, it was passion that drove Arab tribesman from Arabia to conquer the world and build lasting civilization in the Continent's, it was passion and deep love of science that is curing diseases and transforming lives around the globe, it was passion that America beated the Soviets to the moon. Indeed it is passion, dedicated individuals that love the harbor, the coast, the fish and nature that saved the Boston harbor and strippers for future generations. Passion that ignites and drives reason, usually is behind the greatest achivments of men.

Once again Mr. Bruce Berman thank you for a great, informative, cool and passionate class. Thank you for the bass filet which was delicious. I used an old simple recipe and it was yummy.
I baked it in a garlic, cumin, paprika, pepper, salt, lemon, olive oil, coriander and cilantro sauce, very simple but delicious.

lakhaim to you and Shalom.


the last class was about striped bass both theoretical and practical aspects. In the first part of the class we learned about the life of striped bass and the struggles of the governments to save their life. In the second part, prof made a journey to the inner side of striped bass that I am used to make it twice every month. the class had the opportunity to taste that poor fish. The taste of striped bass is very delicious with lemon.

In addition, Greenpeace has a project that striped bass shouldn't be caught less than 30 centimeters length. conscious people do not go restaurants that serve striped bass under 30 cm length.

Striped Bass

Today´s class was about striped bass, an indigenous fish of east coast of United State, although it can also be found in Canada e others parts of the world.
Professor Berman gave us a lecture on the striped bass and its characteristics. It has a large mouth a streamlined and silvery body with dark stripes. Striped bass is classified as an anadromous fish because it can migrate between fresh and salt water.
It´s habitat is normally near the shore and feeds on crabs, lobsters, and other smaller fishes. It has been introduced in several lacks to control de population of invasive species.
It is a migratory fish that normally lives in the south during winter moves north during spring and summer.
Professor Berman showed us his cooking talent and prepared the best fillet fish I ever had. First he opened up the striped bass and explained its anatomy by showing us the stomach, intestine and liver and then prepared the fish as ceviche and sashimi. Congratulation Professor. Have thought about starting a restaurant business?
We all took home a piece of the fish that Professor was kind to share with us. I prepared mine but it did not have Professor´s Berman touch.
I would like to say thanks to every class mate and to Professor Berman who changed my perspectives of wild life and our role in enjoying and protecting it.
Good luck to everyone and enjoy the summer.