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Monday, May 12, 2008

A Spanish-English Seafood List

Common Names of Fish in English and Spanish
by Victoria Challancin

After twenty years of living in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, I’d like to think that I am almost a native citizen. Clearly, I’m not. The constant juxtaposition of “otherness” continually intrudes in my life, and a faint dusting of confusion spices up and improves my existence at all levels, at all times. Even in dealing with the stuff of daily life, bewilderment sneaks in. Take fish, for instance. Yes, fish. For a Florida native who grew up with fishermen on an island in Lake Okeechobee, learning to navigate the linguistic waters of the nomenclature of fish should be a simple learning of some new vocabulary, a simple substitution of one noun for another. Not so. When I offered to include a list of common seafood names in Spanish for my foreign readers here in Mexico, I never expected the task to be at all complicated. So why is it so?

Linguistic confusion abounds when it comes to any discussion of fish and seafood in Mexico for several reasons. The fact that Mexico has 9,330 kilometers of coastline, with 7,338 km facing the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California, and the remaining 2,805 abutting the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, hints at the enormity of the seafood industry in Mexico. When you compound the sheer facts of the geography of the country with additional confusion over language and usage, it spells problems for consumers trying to swim their way through the muddy waters of translation in the markets, stores, and restaurants. Add to this mix the country of Spain itself, from whence the language obviously comes, and the myriad fish species of the Atlantic, which separates Spain and Mexico, and you have the potential for real confusion. Now toss in the different names for fish from the countries of Central and South America. Throw in the fact that in the Spanish language there are both pez/peces to represent live fish and pescado/s to designate the actual food on your plate, and you can begin to see the problem (Example: a tiburón is a shark, but the edible dogfish or small shark so popular on menus throughout Mexico is cazón). Usage changes as well from region to region within a single country and a commonly used name in one area could be totally unknown some miles away.

This is clearly one time that “Google” may not be able to clarify the situation, but maybe a cooking teacher who has learned through time, can help. Below is a list of names for fish commonly used here in San Miguel for my readers who so trustingly made this request:
(Note: Once again, my blog program removes my columns when I publish the post--sorry about that).

Names of Fish in Spanish/English
Aguja Azul Blue Marlin
Ahi Atún Yellowfin Tuna
Anchoa Anchovy
Atun Tuna
Bacalao Cod
Bandera, Bagre, Barbo

Blanco de Nilo A farm-raised perch
Cabrilla Sea Bass
Carpa Carp
Dorado Mahi Mahi, Dolphinfish (the fish, not the mammal)
Huachinango Red Snapper
Jurel Yellowtail
Lenguado Halibut, Sole
Lisa Mullet
Mero, Garropa Grouper
Mojarra Sea Bass
Pámpano Pompano
Pargo, Perca Perch, in general
Pargo Amarilla Yellowtail Snapper
Pargo Colarado Colorado Snapper
Pargo Prieto Dog Snapper
Parquito Little Perch (unspecified species)
Peto, Guahu Wahoo
Pez Espada Swordfish
Pez Fuerte Amberjack
Riaditos Stripe Grunts
Róbalo Snook
Salmon Ahumado Smoked Salmon
Salmon Salmon
Sardina Sardine (also a Flatiron Herring)
Sierra Mackerel
Trucha Trout

Miscellaneous Seafood
Almeja Clam
Anguillas Eels
Calamar Squid
Camarón Shrimp
Callo de Hacha, Vieira Scallop
Jaiba, Cangrejo Crab
Langosta Lobster
Langostino Crayfish, Crawfish
Ostion Oyster

Miscellaneous Terms
Mariscos Seafood
Pescado Fish (as food)
Pez Fish (in the water)
Ahumada/o Smoked
Ala Fin
Filete Boneless piece
Trozo Thick slice
Escamas Scales
Sin cabeza Without head
Espinas Pin bones

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