I just had lunch in another nice Manhattan restaurant, and in light of this being the new century and all I feel that I can declare that all the evidence points to the year of Chilean sea bass being officially over.

Before, say, the middle of 1998, I had never heard of Chilean sea bass. Is it better than Atlantic sea bass? It's the end of an era now and I still don't have an opinion, since I never did a formal taste test. Not that I could; in 1999 all sea bass was Chilean -- to walk into a trendy Manhattan restaurant and ask if they had any other kind of sea bass would be met with stares of disbelief, not to mention score about the same on the hipness scale as inquiring about the type of jelly available for their Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich.

In 1999, the preferred mode of serving Chilean sea bass was with distressed greens, sometimes called wilted greens. To this day I prefer the term distressed because implies a certain amount of emotional damage caused to the vegetable, perhaps during harvesting, that might unsettle concerned vegetarians. These had enought of a wave of popularity in their own right that you could probably mention The Year of Distressed Greens to a Manhattanite that eats at those kind of restaurants and he or she would know exactly what you were talking about.

Anyway they're gone. Perhaps they have been fished to extinction, but I think they're just out -- they have gone the way of the monkfish before them. Now we're back to salmon and tuna hovering on beds of polenta and such, waiting for the great creative minds of the restaurant business to settle on the next big fish.

Note: None of this is to be confused with the 1980s, the heyday of experimental food. See the Decade of Eating Dangerously

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