Arapaima gigas: Arapaima Fish
The arapaima, pirarucu, or paiche is a genus of bonytongue native to the Amazon and Essequibo basins in South America. They are the largest freshwater fish of South America, and among the largest fresh water fish anywhere.
Ruby called this morning to wish me a happy birthday. She also asked me about a fish she bought for dinner two days ago at Whole Foods in Dallas: Paiche. It always surprises me when a fish, especially one that is sold in mainstream markets, is unfamiliar so I Google’d it. I discovered that Paiche is better known as Arapaima, an Amazon River staple and one of the largest freshwater fish in the world. It is long, stout and tapered like many other river behemoths. The fishing of Arapaima is said to be tightly controlled because overfishing has brought it nearly to extinction.
This is the sadness, the moment any fish makes its way to the hungry world’s dinner table, that creature is already close to over-fished. Human efficiency at harvesting wild resources is devastating. Nearly every native and wold stock of fish that we eat is endangered. I asked Ruby if Whole Foods said whether the Paiche is wild or farmed and she thought wild but according to Wikipedia, Arapaima is not commercially fished but is aqua-cultured.
Ironically, if aqua-cultured, Paiche would be safe to eat without fear of endangering it, although most aqua-cultured creatures retain little of the taste, vitality, or soul of their wild counterpart: like strawberries from California or French cherries. But I wont go into that now.
No matter its place on our table or in the wild the beautiful Arapaima is a creature worthy of a moments admiration.