Asian Carp Convivial

part of Reshaping the Shape: Embodiment, Ecology, and Culture of a Postnatural Fish with Sarah Lewison

2019

Asian Carp Tacos
Asian CArp Placemats
The Convivial
The Fish Fillets in action
A "Bighead" Asian Carp fillet by Fin Gourmet
Thousands of pounds of fresh Carp at Fin Gourmet, ready to be processed

As abundant, nutritious, and delicious as Asian Carp are in the Mississippi watershed,hardly anyone eats them. They make up the vast majority of biomass in some waterways, pose a jumping haze and for this reason are consider an invasive pest.  They are vilified by conservationists and boaters alike, and yet still little is being done to make eco-logical use of this fish as a healthy and sustainable food source in a way that could help re-balance the riverine ecology of the Mississippi and its tributaries.

Sarah Lewison and I, in generous collaboration with the Forest and Climate Convergence, threw a "convivial" - a meal of Asian Carp tacos to feed some 200 people at a Convergence event in Carbondale, Illinois. Working with Asian Carp fish processors and food innovators, Fin Gourmet, (based in Paducah, Kentucky) who provided high-quality Asian Carp fillets fished from the Mississippi. As a celebration, a convivial means literally "to live with" (from the Latin) and the question we pose is what it might mean to live symbiotically and ecologically sustainably with an invasive species like the Asian Carp. WE hav had at least two other carp convivials so far.

 

We also designed placemats that could educate eaters about the history and value this under-utilized, tasty, and versatile resource while also raising question about what it means for a species to be "invasive," "alien," "native," or "foreign" in the context of the United States today.

For more see: Of Forests, of Rivers, and of Meals (SL)

Other Texts about the Reshaping the Shaping include -

The Possibility of All Species in an “All Species Parade” (AY)

Imagining an Economy Based on Care (SL & AY)

Defensive Ecologies: Extracting Asian Carp from the Illinois River  (AY)

“What on Earth”: Confluences in the planetary metabolism (AY)

SIU Exhibition page

Billboards page

All Species Parade page

There is also an overview of Reshaping the Shape, of Deep Time Chicago's Field Station #4, and for the HKW project Mississippi: An Anthropocene River.

 

The Fish Fillets in action