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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 This was soon rescinded though and their wealth increased further so that, during the reign of Edward III, the guild could provide £40 to the war against the French, this being a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.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
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Shanghaiist
Sat, 22 Nov 2014 00:00:10 -0800

A 68 year old fishmonger in Xi'An has sustained severe injuries from chasing after a female customer who had given her a fake 100 RMB note, and then being dragged for 100m on a motorbike. Sohu News reported that as soon as the elderly fishmonger ...

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Mon, 27 Oct 2014 11:12:39 -0700

This sea lion is one of the regulars at a fishery as she stands on her flippers patiently queuing up for her fish supper. The cheeky mammal made her way from the sea to the fish stall and waited for her turn for an hour. After being given scraps of ...

Westmeath Examiner

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Sun, 23 Nov 2014 11:30:00 -0800

Gary Quinn of Stephens' Fish Market in Mullingar is one of the five finalists in the BIM Young Fishmonger 2015 competition, the winner of which will be announced in the Radisson St Helen's Hotel, Stillorgan, Dublin tomorrow, Monday November 24. The ...
 
CareersPortal
Wed, 12 Nov 2014 07:22:30 -0800

The five finalists in the Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) Young Fishmonger 2015 Competition took part in the final judging stage today (Wednesday 12th November) with a practical skills test in BIM's Seafood Development Centre, Clonakilty, Co. Cork. Each ...

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Fri, 21 Nov 2014 09:03:45 -0800

Alison Cowan meat and fish team manager at Morrisons store on Idle Valley Road, Retford has come first “plaice” in the supermarket's annual mastercraft competition. She faced tough competition from fishmongers across 510 Morrisons 510 stores to become ...

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Thu, 20 Nov 2014 09:41:04 -0800

A popular former fishmonger who opened up the first mobile seafood stall in a village is set to return after 25 years. Danny Arlow, 52, of Claude Rushnere Close, Lowestoft, left Theydon Bois in 1989 to bring up his three-year-old daughter as a single ...

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Fri, 07 Nov 2014 00:03:45 -0800

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Mon, 10 Nov 2014 22:24:13 -0800

I was very saddened to hear recently of the passing of Fareham fishmonger Peter Cripps. His business in West Street has been there since I was very small. I reckon it's probably one of the oldest shops left in the town centre, along with Soothills Bakery.
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