The king of Portugal’s favorite fish

Desenho RBD_20140826_salmonete
A noble mullet, pencil on paper, Rui Barreiros Duarte, 2014.

King John II, who reigned in Portugal in the late 15th century, liked to say that “a nation is like an ocean. There are many types of fish in the ocean. The sardine tastes good and it is abundant, so it is cheap. The mullet also tastes good, but it is rare, so it is expensive. I prefer the sardine.”

Historians debate whether this aphorism, in which the mullet represents the nobility and the sardine the people, was good court politics. But it is good advice to those going to the fish market.