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January 15, 2009

Love Thy Neighbor’s Dried Fish

Picture 644 Loving their neighbors must be tough for these New York nuns, as they are up against a popular Filipino delicacy called tuyo (salty dried fish). According to the article, the nuns are suing a Filipino couple for cooking tuyo and another popular dish, tinapa (smoked dried fish). Both have a strong "foul" smell that all Filipinos love.

I’m Filipino, and this was a dilemma at our house too. We gave up on the dish some time ago out of courtesy for others. We can’t cook it indoors because it will stink up our condo and clothes, but can't fry it outdoors either because it will offend our neighbors (as happened with our next-door Filipino neighbor who fried fish last summer).

What do you think of the story and what would you do? Is this a racial issue, an ethical issue, or just an issue of respect?

(Image © 80 breakfasts)

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Jason Taylor

It is on the level with playing loud music next door. It is something that can be settled amicably between neighbors and not worth sueing over.
This sounds like one of those cases where there is more then meets the eye. Often seemingly trivial complaints are latched onto as pretexts for escalating a quarrel that is in fact really the result of a cycle of irritations that have been going on for a long time. Think straw and camel's back.

Dan Gill

A racial issue? How is it a racial issue? Cultural, yes. Racial, no.

It is also, as has been suggested, similar to playing loud music or having a loud car or motorcycle. You may love those things, but at some point your neighbors' right not to hear those things are being violated.


It is simply a matter of courtesy and respect.

Think "ugly American".

Now apply it fairly.

It is just common courtesy.

Rachel Coleman

Figuring out how to have your fish and happy neighbors, too, is easier if you have a relationship with your neighbors in the first place.


On a related note-after some searching, I think I have figured out that the unusual smell in my apartment is either
tuyo or tinapa. I am not entirely sure if this is coming from the apartment next door or the one above, both of whom have new tenents. The smell is strong and I really don't like it, but I do like my neighbors (who DONT play Guitar Hero at midnight). I'd like to find a way of getting rid of or covering the smell at my place. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

Jason Bruce

If they're new in the country they probably don't know what their fish is doing to nearby apartments. Just politely ask them to limit the frying or at least let you know if they're cooking it. You may gain new Filipino friends in the process and they may introduce to you some of their native dishes (not the tuyo of course). If you can't find the source of the smell just report it to your building management.

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