It was a warm Sunday afternoon, and Brickell's high-rises loomed on the hazy horizon beyond the nearby Miami River. Quaint fishing boats bobbed on the water's rippling surface, and rays of sunlight glimmered upon the soft waves.
But a few steps from these quiet waters, dozens of shoppers elbowed each other to get to a fishmonger. They huddled about glass display cases and pointed at icy piles of whole mackerel, mutton snapper, yellowtail, and red grouper. Questions like "What else do we need for the asopao?" were audible above the humming chatter of Spanglish. The setting was loud, and it reeked of the sea.
A stunning blond Russian model wearing a silk scarf as a flimsy shirt pushed through the crowd. Balanced on six-inch stilettos and clutching an ivory Louis Vuitton handbag, she demanded ten pounds of wild-caught shrimp, fresh lobster tails, and bay scallops.
She quickly received her catch, dropped some cash on the counter, and pushed through the throng at Casablanca Seafood Market while lugging plastic bags full of ice and fresh fish.
"¡Propina buena!" an employee howled. A good tip!
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Despite Miami's coastal location, markets with fresh local seafood are hard to come by. Grocery stores carry an abundance of frozen, subpar product. At specialty places, offerings include farmed salmon and catfish. In locally owned fish markets, consumers can purchase both overfished Chilean sea bass and wild Gulf Coast shrimp.
Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyCodik.