Eating as an out-of-the-box solution

Megan Thompson, 'If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em:' University of Illinois serves invasive Asian carp for dinner, PBS NewsHour (2019-01-26).

I've had this article sitting in my to-read pile for weeks before finally reading it this morning. Have you ever seen Asian carp in action? They're awful. In high school, I went water skiing in the Illinois River near Havana a few times with a friend. No problems then (except for not being so good at water skiing), but I bet it's not even possible now—or if possible, not safe. You'd have to dress in football pads and helmet to survive, and even then you'd get slimed.

Anyway, that's just the aesthetic aspect—the practical aspect is that they ruin the aquatic environment they're in (remove plants, disturb the riverbed) and run off other fish.

So: good on the University of Illinois for serving the fish up on plates. Now, if you've got any Chinese friends, the solution would have been obvious to them from the start—it wouldn't have been a question of should the fish be eaten but when and how it would be cooked. For us, in the Midwest, there are two kinds of fish: frozen fish and catfish. (Fishing friends, don't @ me.) Left to our own devices I don't think we would have come up with the idea of eating the problem as a solution. These are the kind of fish you want to beat with a baseball bat and then bury unceremoniously in a corn field. Given our context, eating the fish is thinking outside the box; how they got the students to buy into eating it, I don't know, maybe they just followed the line of Chinese students into the dining hall.

I think that sounds like I'm getting close to the pejorative there, but I've eaten several things in China—some of them tasty, some of them well-that's-an-interesting-experience—that I never would have considered eating myself. And every one of the places serving that food had a line.

I was going to call this post "Eat the problem", then I found that Chef Philippe Parola was a step ahead: eattheproblem.us. He's taking on the problem from the other end of the Mississippi River.

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