not born in the Sargasso Sea

Elver season came early last month after millions of wormlike baby eels were spawned in the Sargasso Sea and slithered up North American and European freshwater inlets, ostensibly to live out their adult lives before returning to complete the cycle. That’s unless they were netted by the Maine fishermen who sell them off to Asian buyers, contributing to the depletion of yet another desperately overfished species.

That’s the awful reason they’re fetching upwards of $2,000 a pound, and why, even if you could find and afford a plate of Basque-style angulas a la Bilbaina, you should take a pass.

So I did a double take strolling down the canned fish aisle in Cermak Produce when I spied a package of Goya brand “Eelbroods of Surimi.” Sounds like a house of Balon Greyjoy’s bannermen, but the photograph was unmistakable and arresting: hundreds of grayish vermicelli squirming in a terra cotta dish. But 3.88 ounces of elvers for $4.29? Impossible.