If you have never had a BC Spot Prawn, you have no idea how good a ‘shrimp’ might be – or chances are, just how literally shitty the alternative just might be. Chances are you have heard about the price.
When you consider what we pay for fashion and accessories, it’s funny what we balk at when it comes to food sometimes. The most common question people ask me when it comes to local food is really not a question at all.
It costs more, right? Sure it does.
It also means a lot more on a whole lot of levels that range from the epicurean to the economic. Local food is a whole other experience of food. As for taste? Nothing in the world tastes quite as good.
So what if BC Spot Prawns are now $14 a pound and I just paid $8 for a pound of local asparagus at Farmers Market? That’s money that makes a difference to big pictures and the smallest of plates alike. Put simply, local food puts more money back into the local economy and more meaning into any given mealtime than anything on the planet. The best part about local food is that it makes geniuses of us all in the kitchen; nothing requires less fuss than fresh and seasonal. A pinch of salt and splash of fruit vinegar is enough to bring out the pepper and zip of spring green; a bit of aged balsamic added for the asparagus before a quick grill or bake. When it comes to the BC Spot Prawn though, nothing tastes as fresh as dockside.
For the next seven weeks, the BC Spot Prawn is unlikely to lose an ounce of its celebrity status – even with the recent jump in price at the wharf. At $12 a pound, we were never buying on price in the first place. Seems just pay and fair reward to those who haul the proverbial boat ashore – and get up mighty early to plumb the deep daily.
Besides which, go back seven years and those very same BC Spot Prawns were fetching higher prices abroad – until the BC Chefs Table Society paired with Organic Ocean’s sustainably-minded fishermen to turn the tides in our favour. Six years and as many BC Spot Prawn Festivals at Fisherman’s Wharf in Vancouver later, the prawn has achieved the kind of celebrity status only imaginable in our social-media driven moment.
Tickets for the Sixth Annual BC Spot Prawn Festival were, for the first time, sold in advance online and not even the organizers anticipated the response a simple, savvy social media campaign might garner. The 700 pre-event tickets were sold three days in advance and by the time Organic Ocean’s boat brought in the first BC Spot Prawn catch of the day, over 1,000 people had feasted on the what will probably be one of their most memorable meals of the year. By days end when I caught up with Frank, the line to the docks was never shorter than a steady stream of about 50 people on the docks and as many waiting above. Over 3,000 came to source for local that day. Even with the tents from the primary festivities coming down, hundreds of people filled the lot at Fisherman’s Wharf – with the perpetually busy blue pearl of GoFish! attracting a much similar line in the direction of the seawall towards the adjacent Granville Island.
Very much alive and kicking from the docks, or served raw, boiled, steamed, fried, it was a very bad day to be a BC Spot Prawn. Not mine though. Namaste and food blessed there really is no other seasonal food that brings such a visceral reminder of how fresh good food can be. Having shared more than a handful of prawns straight from the fisherman’s hand, I have to admit, it is the most delicious reminder of local food’s vitality imaginable.
Since the season officially opened a couple days earlier, and Organic Ocean is literally moored in my neighbourhood, it was my good fortune to bring home the catch sans lines of any kind. As per usual, I caught up with a couple of fisherman who have brought more life to my kitchen than anyone I know – and more than a few good recipes. When it comes to local food, the BC Spot Prawn is as genuine as it comes.
When it comes to the best of what the Organic Ocean brings to the table, Steve Johansen and Frank Keitch say it best.