Curing fish is not just a means of making a living for the Deodat family, it is a family tradition that has been passed down for several generations.
Priya Deodat, 31, and her husband sell salt fish in the local markets for a living. “This is our living… since I know meself we grow in this business.” Every day, Deodat and two hired hands prepare 2,600 pounds of fish to be dried by the sun.
Every day, Deodat says, she and her husband go the Meadowbank Wharf to purchase fish. Banga, trout, snapper “any fish we get we does do.” After taking the fish home, “You bust it, wash it and soak it down in salt. After soaking it overnight, you take it out and salt it on a rack and put it fuh sun out,” Deodat explains.
The fish she says is sunned for two days before it is packaged and sold at the La Penitence, Bourda and Stabroek Markets. “We does work every day salting 2,600 pounds ah fish and with good weather we does do 5,000 pounds a week,” says Deodat.
The entire operation is conducted at the Deodat’s Houston back street home. “Is a going business this does pay off,” says Deodat. The mother of three says she has enjoyed salting fish ever since she learnt the trade from her parents.
She points out that another plus in the business is that she gets to spend time with her family while at the same time providing for them. It is Deodat’s hope that the family business will continue through her children.
However, she notes that with the rainy weather the salting of fish has had to be halted. With the last two weeks of rain in particular she says it was difficult. The fish had to remain in the salt water bath. The fish can stay in a salt water bath for up to two weeks before it is dried.
The Deodats are hoping to one day tap into the exporting business, but Priya Deodat says it has been difficult finding the market, although there is one person who orders 80 pounds of fish to take out of the country. To supplement the money earned from selling salt fish, the Deodats also smoke fish to sell, and Deodat says her husband is also a part-time contractor.