Europhiles like me aren’t afraid of carp. In fact, I have fond memories of being fed the pond-raised variety.
Of course not everyone is a Europhile, or has the patience and fortitude to wash out the mud from their future delicacy over a few days’ time via the bathtub. In fact, not all of us even have bathtubs.
It’s a long way to Tipperary from Košice, and longer still to the Illinois River watershed around Chicago, where invasive Asian carp threaten to unsettle the balance of native species.
Eating the enemy is an excellent idea, but first Americans accustomed to lovingly gazing upon the Potemkin facades at Disney World, and imagining there’s anything at all real about them, must undergo aquatic re-education, which is to say Marketing Therapy 101.
Hence carp now gives way to copi: “Focus groups described copi as ‘cute’ and ‘manageable.'”
Asian carp is not the first to get a makeover. The Patagonian toothfish is marketed in America as Chilean sea bass (it is neither a bass nor native to Chile). The foul-sounding slimehead has been much better known as orange roughy since the late 1970s. And managing invasive species by harvesting them is not a novel idea either. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a federal agency, exhorts people to eat lionfish, which threaten reefs along the Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean. Louisiana’s wildlife department offers recipes for nutria, a semi-aquatic rodent with an irrepressible breeding habit. Ragondin à l’orange, anyone?
Today’s cover photo credit goes to Colin Boyle at Block Club Chicago, who offers this excellent article on the Asian carp “rebranding” campaign. It looks good enough to eat, right?
SOUTH DEERING — Its texture is like chicken, and the flavor wavers between tuna and trout. Once it’s smoked, you wouldn’t even know it’s the invasive species that’s trolled Illinois’ waterways for years.
But thank to a rebranding effort by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, detrimental Asian carp has a new name — copi — and it is hitting fish markets and restaurants across the state.
Ready to try it out? Some Chicago locations are serving it.