Tuna Wars

July 19, 2017

No, not Iron Chef vs. Gordon Ramsey or any such nonsense; real wars between tuna fishermen in the Straits of Gibraltar and the orcas that come to feed when the tuna are running. Did I mention we were in Spain?

We met our friends Teresa and Pablo at Meerlust Las Ballenas, a luxury B&B in Los Canos de Meca, on the southern coast of Spain fronting the Atlantic, just across from Morocco in Northern Africa. The Costa de la Luz is an area not as crowded and touristy as the Costa del Sol, and most of the visitors are Spaniards from the north, cities like Madrid, Seville and Jerez. The beaches are beautiful and certainly interesting, as nudity is quite common, and I’m talking more than just topless.

I’m sorry, but there are body parts that should #1, never risk sun exposure and #2, never leave the house unclothed. And I can now say I’ve seen them all. In varying shapes and sizes. There are things, actually, that I wish I could un-see.

When we arrived we were told the tuna were running, but unlike the Almadraba, the old traditional tuna fishing technique of multiple fishing boats encircling the tuna with nets and creating a frenzy of fish and a dangerous job for the fishermen, these fishermen were long-line fishing, catching one tuna at a time.














Moroccan Long-Line Tuna Fishing














The orcas, who are both smart and opportunistic, wait for the fishermen to hook a tuna, and when the fish is tired and closer to the surface the orca strikes, but bites just below the head so as to avoid the hook. Like I said, smart and opportunistic. So the fishermen go on the Spanish version of the Nantucket sleigh-ride, being pulled by the orca as they fight over the tuna on the end of the line. Generally the orca wins.

Our whale watching tour was on a boat from FIRMM, the Foundation for Information and Research on Marine Mammals. I was impressed by this organization, as their work has informed the Spanish and Moroccan governments on the quantity and types of large mammals that exist and thrive cyclically in the Straits of Gibraltar, and have thwarted the ferry routes that would disrupt this activity. Climate change and overfishing have already diminished the numbers of mammals annually. Obviously we don’t want to add to the demise of our aquatic mammals, so I’m happy to support any organization that supports this work.

As with any whale watching activity, we can’t be guaranteed a great experience. I’m happy with under promise and over deliver, which was certainly the case this day. We had orcas on both sides of the boat, under the boat, jumping in tandem, pulling Moroccan fishing boats, and teaching their young how to screw a long line fisherman.

Click on image to view full size

It was thrilling, amazing and intense. And while I felt badly for the fisherman I had a blast. The tuna? They were going down one way or the other. I’m kinda happy to be higher up on the food chain and to be able to eat the tuna dishes in Southern Spain. They waste nothing. Tuna belly? You betcha. Tuna neck? Absolutely. Stay tuned for more food related posts from the trip. And as far as the food chain goes, we pulled our legs up off of the sides when the orcas swam at the boat. No sense taking any chances when we still had tuna to eat. And olives. And bread. And don’t get me started on the wine…



Sangria Me Happy!

July 13, 2017

Okay, okay, so I didn’t give you the sangria recipe last week. Sorry. I’m making amends by giving it to you now. Am I forgiven? After a couple of glasses of this stuff you’ll forgive anyone of anything, and make a perfect stranger your new best friend. Trust me. I’ve read that Sangria in Spain […]

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Meze a Meze

July 5, 2017

What could possibly be better than a Meze platter appetizer on July 4th? TWO Meze platters!                       I know July 4th is supposed to be the all American holiday replete with hot dogs and burgers and fruit pies made to look like an American flag, […]

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Cauliflower Goodness

June 28, 2017

Healthy meals are pretty easy to make, albeit sometimes boring if the lean protein and vegetables drizzled with olive oil combo shows up too often on the plate. I love variety, and I love things that satisfy the need for creaminess and cheesiness and even crunchiness, but I don’t love the calories that come from […]

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Paella Party!

June 21, 2017

Thanks to all of you for your beautiful, kind words about my Father’s Day remembrance. My dear friend Barbara asked for the recipe for my dad’s favorite Father’s Day dish – Paella, and I thought perhaps everyone might enjoy it. It’s from an old Larousse cookbook published in 1978, and while the ingredient list is […]

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Remembering Norman

June 18, 2017

I read a Father’s Day tribute by one of the local newspaper’s writers; she writes book and music reviews, and interviews musicians coming to the area. She did a great job of capturing her relationship with her father over the decades. It was very sweet. It made me think about my dad, Norman, and how […]

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Caramelized Pork with Orange and Sage

June 8, 2017

Milk Street Magazine had an interesting recipe in their May-June issue: Caramelized Pork with Orange and Sage, an Argentinean take on pork tenderloin. It sounded delicious, and was pretty healthy with the exception of a whole bunch of turbinado sugar. I wondered if I could lighten it up. Replacing sugar can be tricky – some […]

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Off the Meds

May 22, 2017

Shortly before my 50th birthday I was diagnosed with CML, or Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. I was pretty sure I was the butt of some cosmic joke; who gets cancer and turns 50 at the same time? Well, thanks to new medicines that target specific chromosomes and the prayers of my family, my work family and […]

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A Gentleman In Moscow

May 17, 2017

I’ve read many books and loved many books, but A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles may have just become my favorite. A Gentleman in Moscow is the 30-year saga of the Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, who is placed under house arrest inside the Metropol Hotel in Moscow in 1922 when the Bolsheviks spare him […]

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Thar She Blows in Provincetown!

May 10, 2017

Believe it or not, in all the years Steve and I have been together we’ve never gone to Provincetown. He and I had both visited before we met, but never together, and since the whales were making an appearance in Cape Cod Bay we decided we’d do a mid-week mini vacation before the spring yard […]

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