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A fishmonger in Pike Place Market on the waterfront of Seattle

A fishmonger (fishwife for women practitioners - "wife" in this case used in its archaic meaning of "woman") is someone who sells raw fish and seafood. Fishmongers can be wholesalers or retailers, and are trained at selecting and purchasing, handling, gutting, boning, filleting, displaying, merchandising and selling their product. In some countries modern supermarkets are replacing fishmongers who operate in shops or fish markets.

Worshipful Company of Fishmongers[edit]

A 16th-century fishmongers stall. Bartolomeo Passarotti

The fishmongers guild, one of the earliest guilds, was established in the City of London by a Royal Charter granted by Edward I shortly after he became king in 1272. Partnership with foreigners was forbidden and the sale of fish was tightly controlled to ensure freshness and restrain profit, which was limited to one penny in the shilling. Nevertheless, the guild grew rich and, after Edward's victory over the Scots, was able to make a great show, including one thousand mounted knights.[1]

During the reign of Edward II, the political power of the fishmongers waned and Parliament decreed that no fishmonger could become mayor of the city. This was soon rescinded though and their wealth increased further so that, during the reign of Edward III, the guild could provide £40 to the war against the French, this being a great sum at that time.[1]

The guild was then reformed by Great Charter as the Mystery of the Fishmongers of London. They were given a monopoly over the crying and selling of fish and they regulated the catching of fish in the Thames which teemed with fish such as salmon at that time.[1] The guild still continues today as one of the Great Twelve City Livery Companies.

Tools[edit]

The tools used by fishmongers include:[2]

  • pliers to pull out pinbones
  • a fish scaler to remove scales
  • a filleting knife to cut away the flesh from the bones
  • short strong knives for opening oysters and other shellfish
  • protective gloves
  • a curved knife for gutting and removing roe

Fishmongers in culture[edit]

In many countries, the fishwife was proverbial for her sharp tongue and outspoken speech. In Medieval France, the ones in Paris were known for their special privilege of being able to speak frankly to the King himself, when he ventured into the marketplace, and voice criticism without fear of punishment.

Molly Malone is a character from a popular Irish song about a young fishwife who tragically dies at a young age.

Charles Fort in his book Lo! compiles the story of the Mad Fishmonger or "St. Fishmonger", which later may or may not appear in the Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson. St. Fishmonger allegedly caused crabs and periwinkles to fall from the sky.

In the English translation of the Asterix series, the village fishmonger is called Unhygienix. In the film The Beach, the Island's chef has only fish as a source of meat, and is named Unhygienix in reference to the Asterix character.

In Shakespeare's Hamlet, some contend that the word fishmonger was a euphemism for a "fleshmonger," or pimp.[3][4][5]

Historic fishmongers[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c John Timbs (1865), "Curiosities of the Fishmongers' Hall", Walks and talks about London, Lockwood 
  2. ^ "A few good tools", The Fishmonger's Apprentice, p. 19 
  3. ^ Steve Roth, Hamlet: The Undiscovered Country, 2009
  4. ^ Hamlet's Puns and Paradoxes, Click Notes
  5. ^ Shaaber MA (1971) "Polonius as Fishmonger" Shakespeare Quarterly, 22 (2).

References[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fishmonger — Please support Wikipedia.
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LAist
Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:41:15 -0700

Hollywood Farmers Market Fishmonger Charged With Stealing From Fishermen. octopus.jpg. Photo via avlxyz on Flickr. The popular vendor of seafood from the Hollywood Farmers Market, Sea Fever, was arrested on Sunday on several charges, which will ...

Gloucester Citizen

Gloucester Citizen
Tue, 15 Apr 2014 07:11:39 -0700

POPULAR fishmonger Malcolm Smith says he is considering quitting Eastgate Market in favour of a market which has headhunted him – as the row deepens over whether the market should move or stay. Eastgate Market traders are being presented with three ...

Daily Mail

Daily Mail
Tue, 01 Apr 2014 10:15:33 -0700

A 13-year-old girl who slapped a fishmonger in the face with a large sea bream has been let go by police after she apologised. The teenager was captured smiling on CCTV moments before the bizarre fish-slapping incident at an Asda store in Accrington, ...
 
EnetEnglish
Thu, 17 Apr 2014 03:09:15 -0700

An official clears fish from the Olympiakos benches Police in Thessaloniki said on Thursday that they arrested a 36-year-old man who they believe was behind an incident at Wednesday evening's Paok-Olympiakos game during which Paok fans splattered the ...

Irish Independent

Irish Examiner
Wed, 26 Mar 2014 19:03:45 -0700

That was the reaction from fishmonger Pat O'Connell yesterday as he reflected on his private audience with Queen Elizabeth before attending a reception for some 300 people at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, to celebrate the contribution made by Irish ...
 
The Times (subscription)
Sun, 23 Mar 2014 14:11:15 -0700

Next month history will be made when the Irish President makes the Republic's first state visit to Britain. Before that will be the first appearance by an Irish fishmonger at a Buckingham Palace reception. In a nod to the success of the Queen's state ...
 
New Zealand Herald
Thu, 10 Apr 2014 09:18:45 -0700

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Epsom Guardian

Epsom Guardian
Wed, 02 Apr 2014 01:39:30 -0700

Epsom Guardian: Terry Evans in Cheam where he sold fresh fish from Hastings Terry Evans in Cheam where he sold fresh fish from Hastings. A much-loved fishmonger who sold fresh fish from his van for 30 years hung up his apron for the final time last week.
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