Food is a tricky. For some people, food choice is an essential component of cultural heritage and national identity. For others, food choice is a statement of philosophical or moral principles. For many, being able to reject food is an unobtainable luxury. One thing is certain: food is so central to the human experience that when we question our food choices, when we are forced (or force others) to change them, when we discover that the choices we make are not what we think they are, it is impossible to separate our food ethics from our social structure. Which is why seemingly trivial revelations–bugs in your coffee, meat made slime, or a fish by any other name–often result in major outrage and structural changes. Eating is simultaneously a deeply personal experience and one in which, for much of the developed world, we are completely detached from the source.
Slimehead is not a word you would expect to find on the menu of a fancy restaurant. Like dolphin*, toothfish*, goosefish*, mudbug*, hog*, and gizzard fish*, slimeheads have undergone a bit re-branding over the last few decades to make their name as palatable as their fillets. Enter the Orange Roughy, a dull, uninspired name that captures nothing of the grandeur of Hoplostethus atlanticus and ignores the defining characteristic of these deep-sea fishes.
What does Orange Roughy mean to you? Well, it’s probably orange, and I guess roughy means it might be rough, or something. The name is pretty uninformative. But slimehead! Slimehead tells you quite a bit about this creature, and leads to some interesting ecological questions. Why is it’s head covered in slime? What does the slime do? How is the slime contained in its head?