Sometimes we all just need a little spontaneity in our lives, and it was in this spirit that Jan and I decided to forgo our massive to-do list (we live in a charming but borderline decrepit old house) and head to the beach. It had been a while, and we needed it. With dog in tow we piled into the car and began the three hour drive to the coast before our morning caffeine had a chance to kick in.
We like to go in the off-season but that ship apparently sailed a month or so back, because once we got there the roads were crowded with other beach goers. As much as we prefer to feel like we have the place to ourselves, there’s no such thing as a bad day at the beach.
One of the pleasures of heading down to the Texas coast is the abundance of wild caught seafood in many of the local restaurants, and it is here that the trip went off the rails a bit. Our usual haunts don’t allow pets and we couldn’t bare to leave Mia in the car during her first trip to the beach, so we drove around until we found a little place with sidewalk dining.
Our waiter was great. After seating us he returned with a large bowl and a pitcher of water for our thirsty pooch. The menu was small but more than reasonably priced, and we placed our order with the hopes that the food would be good.
And it was, sort of. It was seasoned to perfection, and cooked properly. I’m not mentioning the name of the restaurant or the town that it’s in because I don’t want to pick on anyone and I do want to speak to a larger point. We live on the Texas Gulf Coast. There is such an abundance of wild-caught seafood here that if you live within a hundred miles of the beach there is a pretty good chance that you know someone that has worked as a shrimper at some point in their lives. With all of the shrimping and fishing happening here you would think that it would be a no-brainer to have wild-caught seafood on the menu at your local, beachside seafood restaurant. Unfortunately that isn’t always the case.
The shrimp in my dish was obviously farm raised. It had the colorless appearance, bland taste and rubbery texture that has long been a dead giveaway for seafood raised in a pond. Sometimes people are amazed that I can spot the difference, but not only did I grow up near the beach I had an uncle with a shrimp boat. I know what wild caught is supposed to look and taste like (the texture is different, too) because I’ve eaten it hundreds if not thousands of times.
I understand that the restaurant business is a business of pennies. I get that you want to be competitive, I really really do. I would also gladly pay a few dollars more per meal in order to enjoy something that was made with quality ingredients, not only because it tastes so much better but because I believe with all my heart that it is better for you.
So if you’re reading this and you own, operate, or even just wash dishes at a seafood restaurant let me be clear:
- I will happily pay extra for wild-caught.
- I have no problem spending more money for organic, and
- I really don’t think I’m alone.
We still had fun at the beach, though.