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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Smelts are yummy

I like wine, but not as much as I like rum.
But I must say, I could be convinced to change that preference by some California vineyard products. Unfortunately, there’s going to be a lot less of those if the Feds are allowed to continue their water cutback to the Sacramento Valley.

For those not following this story very closely, it is yet another example of placing the welfare of other animal life over that of humans.

Because of a two-inch minnow, which was listed on the endangered species list, the “delta smelt,” California’s Central Valley is dry. Real dry.

Already 37,000 jobs have been lost due to the fish and the number continues to rise. According to the California Department of Water Reclamation, combined state and federal water cutbacks could idle more than 1 million acres of fields, orchards and vineyards. This, according to the DWR, will cause losses of at least $1.15 billion. The pumps which had delivered water to the now parched area were shut down after environmentalists won a federal court case to protect the minnows from untimely deaths in the irrigation pumps.

Does anyone else think this is a bad idea?

These farmers affected by this shut-down are third-generation farmers. They are now in lines at the food banks. So are those who have worked to get the pumps shut down eco-activists or eco-terrorists? And those who are obeying orders to shut the pumps off - are those really orders they should be following, knowing that they are wiping out the lives of others?

Smelts are also known in the U.S. as “whitebait” a term which started in England where a variety of these fish were caught in the Thames and used as bait. By the eighteenth century, they were considered a delicacy. You can find them in the supermarket still today. They are crunchy and yummy if done right – and I’ll even go so far as to say a nice smelt dish would go well with some California produce and a nice California wine.

According to, the key to pairing food and wine is in balancing “the flavors, the intensities, and the weights of the foods and the wines.” The website seems to suggest zinfandel in this case.

The key, of course, to surviving in the world, is also balance – in this case, to balance the lives of people against the lives of smelts.

It really shouldn’t be a tough call to make.

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