Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Preserving the freshness

We still read newspapers right? We still throw them out, we still cut out important articles, and yes we homeless types still sleep in them. Do we wrap our fish in them simply to recycle? Come on, there has to be more history than that.

One possibility could be mummification......yup! The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology tells us complete vertebral columns in certain species of fish have been perfectly preserved when wrapped in linen or Ptolemaic styles of papyrus (altough not spreading gossip of King Tut's newest affair, an ancient form of newspaper all the same). Fish were believed to have been in an "excellent state of preservation" when wrapped in linens.

Another "credible website on fish" (kidding) suggests an almost hygienic quality to our old headlines. Fish and chips have been served in newspaper to heighten the aroma and keep them um......sanitary. The article continues saying that "A supporting point to this would be that midwives / the emergency services often suggest the use of newspaper when delivering a baby in an emergency if nothing else is available." hmmm....

ANYWAY.....Johnny, the Bear, Sam and all the other veterans around here can remember how big of a role newspaper has always played for us at Pike Place Fish. We can wrap our fish and preserve the freshness for the two minute stroll to someone's apartment or for two days as the newspaper lined box jumps from hand dolly, to truck, to plane, to doorstep.

Connected with the fabled tradition at Pike Place of wrapping fish in yesterday's news is a relationship with Primeau Place Senior Housing. Nestled in the heart of the Capitol Hill neighborhood just up the street from downtown Seattle, Primeau hosts Henry Green and his hard-working crew of newspaper rolling residents. With their knot tying, nimble fingers and pride for rolling only black and white papers ("the traditional way of wrapping fish"), this crew has been providing this invaluable service to the boys of Pike Place for over 15 years.

In a world where authenticity is the buzzword of all buzzwords, I was taken aback by how genuine and real the newspaper relationship was for us. I escape the traffic and buses of downtown and now maneuver our Ford F450 diesel truck through densely wooded and windy neighborhood streets. After locating Primeau, I meet up with Henry whose first words were "What's this I hear about Bear breaking his leg?!" I could tell this guy had known us for a long time and was ready to hit the ground talking. He was always in around the market in his younger days chewin the fat with Keith "the bear" Bish and more recently, he had been in and out of chemo treatment while always waiting to greet the Pike Place Fish truck as it rolled up to collect Henry's hard work.
After introducing myself as a temporary fill-in for Bear behind the wheels, Henry and Kit showed me the basement utility storage room containing over 600 pounds of quality newspaper rolls. Each one is hand tied and color free. Loading each one into their shopping cart, I roll it up the street in my Extra Tuff rubber boots before throwing them into the back of the truck.

At 18 cents per pound, I write the check and am on my way. We get recycled paper to insulate the freshness of our seafood, and Primeau gets some funds for community dinners and trips that make their facility the kind of place it is to live. Being part of the final newspaper pickup from Primeau meant a lot to me for sure and I hope our relationship with them has helped to make a difference as well.

Speaking for Primeau, Kit Bryson says "We have enjoyed the relationship and I think both parties have benefited from knowing each other".