I went out to eat last night and had Branzino. It was delicious. Light and flaky but also hearty enough to not make you feel like you needed another meal afterward. It was prepared with olives and a light lemon sauce. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
This morning, however, I got to thinking – what the heck is a Branzino? Has anyone ever seen one in the wild? Someone out there scuba diving say “hey, I swam through a whole school of Branzino”? I’ve never heard someone say that. In fact, I never even heard of a Branzino other than on the menu of some of my favorite restaurants.
So what gives? A new species doesn’t just materialize.
I asked my friend, Google, and I learned that a Branzino is a European Bass. So basically, this is marketing pure and simple. Restaurants probably said, “I can’t charge $29 for a bass. Maybe if we called it something else that makes it sound fancy?” And the Branzino was born.
I laughed as I continued looking through my Google search and found the following:
“Branzino is one of the finest fish, with very few bones and firm flesh, and delicate flavor that holds its shape in stuffing, grilling, or baking. Branzino is a versatile fish.”
It reminds me of a scene near the beginning of the first Godfather movie when Luca Brasi goes to visit Don Corleone at his daughter’s wedding and says, “Don Corleone, I am honored and grateful that you have invited me to your home on the wedding day of your daughter. And may their first child be a masculine child.” And may their first fish be a versatile fish too.
I think all of the other fish got together at their annual United Nations of fish meeting. They were all there – the salmon, halibut, sea bass, trout – you name it. They heard reports about the growing consumption of their species by humans. “How can we turn the tide?” “How do we make the humans eat less of us?” And they hatched a plan to go online and write lots of amazing reviews about the lowly Branzino. “If we talk up the Branzino, people will think it is a treat to order that at restaurants.”
Those fish may have small brains but their diabolical plan has worked perfectly.