The Marshallese are avid fishermen. Most of their diet consists of fish and rice. And in the outer islands, you can add coconut to that. Twyla was telling me that sometimes, when the small planes are delayed and unable to deliver food to the outer islands, the people have to eat shaved coconut until more supplies arrive. It can be a stressful dilemma. Sometimes the same anxiety happens to residents on Ebeye when they run short on rice. I remember watching the documentary of how a movie (Pirates of the Caribbean maybe?) was made on an island and the crew and director kept talking about how difficult it was to feed everyone, provide water and shelter and sanitation for around 1000 people simply because everything had to be brought in on a boat…I was like, ‘Tell me about it…”
My friend ran into some workers who had gotten their hands on some Red Snapper which is pretty rare on this chain of islands. They offered him some of their wares and he excitedly accepted. Whether his joy was slightly tempered or not by what he knew was the reality of eating a Red Snapper caught in this portion of the reef, I do not know. But regardless of certain consequences, he was going to eat good tonight…
One of the larger catches fished in these waters is the Marlin. The fishermen can get a fairly good wage out of selling one of these big fish to the local fish market here on the island. There are not many shell fish that come through here. Every now-and-then you’ll see a crab for sale and sometimes little baby octopi. They are served cold. I’m not sure if they are cooked…they don’t cook their fish which generally reflects the Asian influence of the Japanese whose customs were intertwined with Marshallese culture.
Then probably the biggest would be shark. I’ve not seen shark caught by fishermen yet but Nyasha did last year. What did they use for bait, you ask? Oh, you really don’t want to know, I promise. But somehow, they lured the shark in and pulled it out of the blue waters about a hundred yards from my house. The lagoon is infested with sharks. If they could find a way to ship them to China efficiently, they could probably make some big bucks. Or maybe that’s illegal…
But, back to the fish, namely, the Red Snapper. My friend had secured a rather tasty meal for that night. Happily he prepared it; then happily he ate it. He knew he shouldn’t have. He knew what was going to happen to his body in the hours to follow. But the craving of good fish meat trumped his better judgment, and so he ate.
Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy,
Do not desire his delicacies,
For he is like one who is inwardly calculating.
“Eat and drink!” he says to you,
But his heart is not with you.