This modern pirate yarn has all the makings of a great true adventure tale and explores the ways our culinary tastes have all manner of unintended consequences for the world around us. Hooked tells the story of the poaching of the Patagonian toothfish (known to Americans as "Chilean Sea Bass") and is built around the pursuit of the illegal fishing vessel Viarsa by an Australian patrol boat, Southern Supporter, in one of the longest pursuits in maritime history.
Author G. Bruce Knecht chronicles how an obscure fish merchant in California "discovered" and renamed the fish, kicking off a worldwide craze for a fish no one had ever heard of and everyone had to have. With demand exploding, pirates were only too happy to satisfy our taste for Chilean Sea Bass. From the world's most treacherous waters to its most fabulous kitchens, Hooked is at once a thrilling tale and a revelatory popular history that will appeal to a diverse group of readers. Think The Hungry Ocean meets Kitchen Confidential.
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G. BRUCE KNECHT is a writer for the Wall Street Journal. His work has also been published in The Atlantic Monthly and the New York Times Magazine.From Publishers Weekly:
Starred Review. The Patagonian toothfish—which can live up to 50 years and grow to six feet long—is an ugly creature considered too bland for eating by most South Americans. Its high fat content, codlike texture and lack of a fishy taste convinced a Los Angeles fish merchant who found the toothfish in Chile in 1977 that, given an exotic new name, it would do quite well in America. By 1998, "Chilean sea bass" had become the hottest restaurant craze: "[e]veryone had to have it." Knecht (The Proving Ground) weaves a parallel plot, which takes place in the South Indian Ocean in 2003, where an Australian patrol boat is hunting down a pirate vessel for stealing toothfish. The chase takes them thousands of nautical miles away to dangerous Antarctic waters and involves South African mercenaries and a dramatic boarding in dangerous seas. Knecht's gripping book flips between the commercial history of the toothfish—just the latest of many culinary fads that end up threatening an ocean species—and the chase, which illuminates the practically lawless world of commercial fishing, where factory boats with vast dragnets can devastate a population in just a couple of years, a practice the author calls "the marine equivalent of strip mining." First serial in the Wall Street Journal. (May)
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