A passionate fish

by Cristino Bogado

Wir haben Zeit. Ein Heft über Langsamkeit (Ausgabe II/2015)


The giant catfish. Illustration: Lester Scalon

Nobody who first sets eyes on this ugly catfish would imagine that it tastes delicious. If a fillet of it is cooked with milk or cheese, it disintegrates as soon as its on a fork. For us Paraguayans the spotted catfish is a holy fish, especially loved by men who considered it an aphrodisiac. There are many legends about the catfish. One of the most famous is about two friends, Ignacio and Ramón. Ignacio owned a hat with a jaguar skin brim, which was his good luck charm. Once, when he was with Ramón, they set up otter traps, he caught fifteen otters but Ramón just got one. Jealous of his friend’s success, Ramón stabbed Ignacio to death. As a punishment, God transformed him into a giant catfish, who is similarly patterned like a jaguar and who, out of shame at his misdeed, only hunts at night when nobody can see him.

It is not easy to catch this silvery to lead-grey predatory fish with a white belly and dark spots. It is a kind of South American Moby Dick. During the day it hides at the bottom of the river. Because of overfishing the species has become rare - but people still pluck specimens weighing up to eighty kilos from the Rio Paraguay. The fish you get on the Mercado Remanso, the biggest fish market of the country, twenty kilometres south of the capital Asunción, are smaller but not less

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