D.C. Diary: Nothing fishy about it

Fisherman’s Market, SW
Sunday, Jan. 27
2 p.m.

Living in such a small community it is easy to forget that there is life outside Northwest, Washington D.C. The District is filled with areas that at first glance are not desirable to visit, but the Fisherman’s Market is a lot more impressive than it might seem.

I took a ride with my sister to Southwest to the Fisherman’s Market, also a couple blocks walk from the Waterfront Metro station on the Green line. The second we stepped out of our car, the pungent smell of fish hit our noses. As soon as we approached the counters, every worker around asked us if we needed help. We must have been asked 10 times in five minutes what we wanted to buy. The venders were very aggressive, competing for every customer at the market. Everyone was selling the same fish, and they all thought theirs were the abosolute best.

The vendors said they had 15 types of shrimp to offer. One vender showed me that it only takes six of his jumbo shrimp to make a pound. I have never seen so many shrimp in one place. There were even shrimp called “head-on shrimp.” You don’t get this kind of food at Red Lobster.

There were crabs, lobsters, clams, muscles and more than a few dozen types of fish, the biggest being a 26-pound cod. One vender told me his rarest fish is the strawberry grouper, which can be imported from either North Carolina or Brazil. He said it was so rare that he usually does not have it in stock. Another vender said his rarest fish is the parrotfish. He pointed to a large-sized fish with rainbow coloring. He said it came all the way from the Bahamas.

The Fish Market has been around for about 100 years, and the seafood originally was brought by boat from the Chesapeake Bay. For the past 30 years or so, trucks have replaced boats.

One shop owner, Peyton Barton, said the federal government refused to renew his lease for the first time in years. He said they were renewing all the other venders’ except his. My sister and I signed a petition to save his stand.

We walked around awhile looking at the different families and couples buying fish. There were a few people just sitting on the curb eating whatever it was they just bought. My sister and I were about to leave when a pushy vender asked us if we needed help. Before we could say “no thanks,” he was telling us to go talk to his friend to get a special deal on cooked shrimp. Shrimp being our favorite, we couldn’t resist.

We bought half of a pound and sat down on the curb to see what the fuss was all about. I’ve tried a million varieties, but I think these were the freshest and the best shrimp I’ve ever had. Now I have a new place to take my dad when he asks me what I want to do for food.

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