Down East - Late Summer 2011 travel blog

festival tent

chefs at work

food close up

salmon luncheon

farmer's market

campground view

fog lurking

abandoned facory

salmon farm

close up

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local entertainment

While the weather forecast threatened showers, we awoke to another bright blue sky, although a few foggy bits curled around the distant islands. We're not always sure if the weather forecasts we hear really pertain to us. We are so far from sizable cities that we're on no one's radar here, including the weather man's. After a stroll on our beach, we headed downtown to the major events of the Salmon Festival.

Main Street (such as it is) was closed to traffic and the farmers and artisans had set up tents along the street tempting us with their wares. At the maple syrup kiosk we learned that that the pale colored syrup has been boiled down just as much as the darker blend. The color deepens as winter comes to an end and the darker syrup tastes more mapley. Vermonters like the lighter shade; Mainers prefer the dark.

Under the tent at street's end, grillers were preparing a wonderful meal with salmon, of course, and skewers of grilled vegetables. For dessert heavy cream was poured over frozen local blueberries that had been sweetened a bit. The cream froze and created a sort of blueberry ice cream combo. I feel blasphemous writing this, but we have been tasting and testing local blueberries all week and they are not nearly as good as the ones we get at home from Michigan or imported from who knows where. These blue berries are tiny and tasteless. They are best used in pie when they are cooked together and reduced.

We took a boat tour to the spot where the salmon are farmed. Atlantic salmon have been virtually obliterated by over fishing, so any that you buy today come from farms which began in the 1980's. Large circular pens are filled with 30,000 fingerlings each that have been raised in fresh water hatcheries. The area we toured had more than twenty such pens. You can do the math or simply conclude that a large amount of salmon is being quickly and efficiently raised here. As with most activities today, technology has eliminated many jobs from the process. Computers regulate how much feed is released into the pens and underwater cameras keep an eye on the fish as they mature. The ones we saw today were more than two feet long and leaping enthusiastically out of the water. Food critics who monitor large animal husbandry operations, have the same objections to salmon farming as they do to other large scale operations raising meat on the hoof or chickens. The salmon are kept in close confinement and the water must get fouled with excrement since the sea can only provide limited current through the nets on the pens. Sometimes antibiotics must be administered. Purists say that wild Alaska salmon is much healthier, but it is so expensive few can afford it. An omnivore's dilemma.

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