Dingle, Co. Kerry is where I finally got a taste of what being a chef entails. When I finished my cooking course in Ballymaloe I moved here for my first job, cheffing in the busiest restaurant in town, the Beginish. It was crazy busy but great craic. I touched on Dingle in my previous post, noting it’s primarily a fishing town with a huge tourism industry. This is where my love for cooking seafood began.
To give you an idea of the history of this historical Irish town, here are some tidbits (thanks to www.dingle-peninsula.ie): The fishing industry of Dingle began amidst the suffering and starvation of the Great Famine. Prior to this, Dingle as a fishery district did not exist, and is not noted as such in the earlier annual reports of the Fishery Commissioners until c.1830. The famine, acting as a catalyst, established Dingle as a deep-water trawler port unique on Ireland’s west coast and this trawler tradition perpetuated into the present century. The Dingle fleet at present constitutes an assortment of many vessel types and uses with an emphasis in recent decades on maritime tourism. This tourism has been supported by the development of a yachting marina and the Ocean World aquarium complex which opened at Easter 1996.
On our quick getaway to Dingle a few weeks ago, after our breakfast of fish n’ chips, we took a stroll down by the waterfront where we spotted a couple of fishing trawlers pulling into port. We walked down the pier to see what kind of fish they had caught. After speaking with the owner of the boats I found out the scoop which was very interesting. If you look through the pictures you’ll see story as we did.
These bad boys in the photos are albacore tuna, caught 70 miles off the coast. Between two trawlers they caught 30 tons of tuna in one week, which filled two 18-wheeler trucks. The way they do it, unlike the Spanish or French fishermen who use fishing lines, is by casting nets between each boat and basically scooping up the fish. Obviously this works well! On the boat they are packed in ice to keep fresh but not frozen. Interestingly though, none of this catch was for the Irish market, it was all going to be shipped to France and Spain. I found that bizarre. In fact, most of Ireland’s fish are exported. I guess we’re still a meat and potatoes nation.