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Old 21-09-2004, 05:13 PM
krusty kritter
 
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Default Faux "mojarra"?

Has anybody ever eaten mojarra? Or tilapia? Would tilapia be considered an
ethical substitute for mojarra?

My continuing search for culinary adventure led me to one of many small Mexican
restaurants in the San Fernando Valley, where I was intrigued by the offering
of
"mojarra frita" on the menu on the wall...

It has been said that crispy fried mojarra is a Mexican "favorite"...

One can't expect fine dining in a storefront diner where the customer walks up
to the counter and orders from a menu on the wall behind the counter, but, I
would at least expect that what I ordered was what I would get...

The "mojarra" was nearly incinerated, and lay upon the plate amongst the rice
and beans, glaring at me with its withered eye, and was served with head and
tail...

The "mojarra" looked vaguely familiar, I had eaten something like it in China,
but it looked like something else I'd been familiar with in the past, I
couldn't put my finger on it. I went ahead and ate it. A tiny bit of fish bone
stuck in my throat and irritated it for hours...

The incinerated "mojarra" had its revenge upon me...

I asked my amigo Jaime, who is from Arizona, what a "mojarra" was, anyway...

Jaime replied, "Don't talk to me about 'mojados', it's not polite"...

Jaime is partially deaf, so I explained to him that a "mojarra" was a kind of
fish, not an illegal alien. Being from Arizona, Jaime had little experience
with sea food, and didn't know what a mojarra was...

I researched "mojarra" on the web, and found that a mojarra is a food fish that
lives in the ocean, but sometimes swims up rivers, it's related to a perch and
has a rather disk-shaped body with a tail fin that splits in two lobes like a
goldfish's tail...

I saw pictures of Yellow-fin Mojarra and Silver Jenny that didn't look at all
like what I had eaten..

My web research also found references to "tilapia" being substitued for
"mojarra"...

I remember reading about tilapia many years ago. Tilapia were being considered
for commercial use as a food fish about 50 years ago, and are finally being
sold in supermarkets in the last few years...

Tilapia are a fresh water fish from the alkaline lakes of eastern Africa, where
the natives are starving and would rather die of starvation than eat a tilapia.
They were said to have more repugnance for eating fish than Europeans would
have for eating a worm...

And I finally recognized what the "mojarra" I'd been served really was, from
the pictures on the web. A squarish, lantern jawed fish with a flaglike tail
that didn't resemble the real mojarra, it turned out to be a tilapia, an
African mouth-brooding cichlid which I had once kept for a pet in my aquarium!

The mouth brooding tilapia that I used to own would carry their eggs around in
their mouths until they hatched and would provide refuge for their fry after
they hatched...

That's why tilapia are more successful in overpopulating whatever body of water
they inhabit or are introduced to. They protect their young.

There is a pond in Balboa Park in the San Fernando Valley. The pond is filled
with partially-treated sewage from the local water treatment plant. The pond is
swarming with tilapia, and people fish for the tilapia. I suppose they
ignorantly take them home and eat them...

Recebtly, I have been seeing tilapia in the sea food section of my local
supermarket. I suppose that's where the restaurant that sold me my "mojarra"
got their fish from...

The tilapia is related to the mojarra though. They are both members of the
perch family...


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