Fishing for the Truth In what manner, and to what extent, is the authenticity of the people, place and food of Newhaven’s historic fish market being represented or commodified in The Fishmarket restaurant?
Newhaven is a district to the north of Edinburgh city centre, situated on the Firth of Forth between Leith and Granton. A fishing village for over five-hundred years, the area acquired a fish market building in 1896. Changes within the fishing industry between then and now have led to changes in the use of the building, and the current space contains a small working fish market, a fishmonger and two fish restaurants. One of these restaurants is The Fishmarket, which draws on the heritage of the village in its design and marketing, and is used in this research as a case study to critically test existing theory around authenticity. Mixed qualitative methods are used to carry out in-depth research into the business’s representation of the people, place and food of Newhaven. The context of historic Newhaven is explored through examination of archival photographs, while The Fishmarket’s representation of heritage is investigated through analysis of the space, website, press release and Instagram page, which is supplemented by interviews with key members of the restaurant team. As a recently opened business, it is a new subject for research, to which theory around communications, commodification and authenticity is applied. Although it is suggested that the business is employing strategies to further the authenticity of the space, the research reveals that commodification is not a new concept in Newhaven. Nonetheless, this project allows for critical analysis of the subjective nature of authenticity through detailed case study research of a single building within a historic fishing village.