Friday, February 4, 2011

The Touch Tank Salad Bar

            I love chatting with the Native Alaskans that visit the aquarium, because I nearly always learn something new about the animals we exhibit. Very often, the new information comes in the form of recipes. For many Native Alaskans, they seem to regard the aquarium exhibits the same way a native of the Lower 48 would regard a museum exhibit of their favorite childhood foods. 

            A visitor recently was waxing nostalgic about eating the short-spined sea urchins, describing in detail how they are harvested and prepared. (‘Once you’ve cut off the bottom of the test, then you crack it apart like a taco…’) My guest also told me that the crimson anemones in the touch tank are edible; which is news to me – anemones are so gelatinous that even other marine critters don’t think they’re worth the effort of digesting. The preparation instructions seem to involve removing the digestive track, and then boiling what’s left, as if you were poaching an egg.   He said it has a texture similar to squid. The conversation might have seemed less odd if he hadn’t been playing with the crimson anemone the whole time he was talking about ripping out its innards and eating it. Given any encouragement whatsoever, I think the visitor would have pulled a multi-tool out of his back pocket and done a demonstration right there.  

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