The ocean there, it’s infinite, a place where horizon and water meet like a seam in a dress, a little bump and then smoothness again. Sunlight pierces the dawn’s fading blackness and, overhead, the parasitic gulls swirl, their curved yellow beaks moving incessantly, filling the air with their own peculiar songs. And then human voices join in, throbbing, shutting out the pounding noise of the waves. Senegalese fishermen singing Men, women, and children rush to the boats, thrusting their hands […]
A bouillabaisse fish, the weever is. Mentioned in William Verral’s A Complete System of Cookery (1759) as “weaver,” the weever fish’s spines emit poison. According to Clifford Wright, a restaurateur in Marseille likely invented bouillabaisse, an expensive version of fish stew and not really the traditional fisherman’s fish boil. So much for romantic nostalgia and visions of bereted shivering men huddled around a bubbling pot of fish tails and mussel shells. Charles Dickens expounded on bouillabaisse in a most enticing way in Household […]
Just a pinch, and the primal sea surges, memories filling your mouth. Weep, and you’ll know what fish first knew. Bleed, and you’ll smell the earth. Sweat, and you’ll sense ancient waters flowing. Building block of blood, sweat, and tears. Salt, not sugar, primeval taste. Ancient, this elixir. The essence of legends, myths, stories. Pillars of salt, sign of souls gone astray. Salt of the earth, logo of virtue. Sacred and pure, cleanser of souls and of pots, this simple, […]
As it fell on a holy-day, And vpon an holy-tide-a, Iohn Dory bought him an ambling nag, To Paris for to ride-a.* ~~ Child Ballad #284A: “John Dory” I first met John Dory at the open-air fish market in Rabat, Morocco. He’s a solitary soul. Doesn’t hang out too much with his own kind. And he goes by many names, John does: Saint-Pierre in France (also Poule de Mer, Sea-Hen, and Dorée), Gall in Catalonia, Gal in the French Midi, […]
Categories: Africa, Fish, France, French Cooking, Morocco, Recipes • Tags: Africa, Ballads, Child Ballads, Cooking, Fish, Food, France, French Cooking, John Dory, Louis Eustache Ude, Morocco, Recipes, St. Perre, The French Cook, William MacGillivray
In celebrating art, the Western world owes a tremendous debt to France. Once a mecca for Impressionist artists and others, France nurtured both their souls and their bellies. And in France, art goes back a long way, back to the time of Cro-Magnon man who left his indelible marks on the dim damp walls of the caves of Lascaux in the Dordogne area of southwestern France.
Categories: Art, Bibliographies, Food Columns, French Cooking, Mushrooms, Pies--Savory, Potatoes, Recipes • Tags: Artists, Claude Monet, Cuisine Francaise, Fish, Food, France, French Cooking, Impressionism, Luncheon of the Boating Party, Mushrooms, Potato, Quiche, Recipes, Salon des Refusés, Shrimp
Sir Toby Belch: Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale? Clown: Yes, by Saint Anne, and ginger shall be hot i’ the mouth too. Twelfth Night. Act ii. Sc. 3. If anyone ever makes a movie about ginger’s long and fascinating history, I want Leonardo DiCaprio to play the lead. Imagine him sporting a multi-colored pair of hose, leaping from bow to stern on a flimsy wooden caravel … Anyway, Shakespeare described […]
The kulebyaka should be appetizing, shameless in its nakedness, a temptation to sin. ~~ Anton Chekov, “The Siren” Fish dishes abound in Russian cuisine, in large part because of the Russian Orthodox Church’s strict rules on fasting during Lent other times of the year. But we cannot ignore the simple fact that fish thrive in the thousands of rivers and lakes crisscrossing the face of that immense land mass, bordered by twelve seas. Again we see the impact not only […]
In Asia, cooking fish presents no problem to thousands of ingenious cooks. The abundance of fish and the surfeit of ingredients ensures that fish cookery scales heights far beyond scorched fish fingers, dried-out fillets, and mushy tuna-noodle casserole.
It’s Lent. That means fish to a lot of people, even today, despite the relaxed rules of the Church. But how to cook fish? How to get past Mrs. Gorton’s Fish Sticks? Many, many ways. Let’s look at what people around the world do to get fish from the seas, rivers, and lakes from their pots and pans to their mouths, starting with Africa:* *For more on African food, see Fran Osseo-Asare’s magnificent blog about cooking in Africa, chiefly Ghana. […]
Lent used to be a far more widespread concept in American society than one might think. As Mark Kurlansky made clear in his book, Cod: A Biography of a Fish That Changed the World (1997), cod overfishing led to some radical changes, including Canada’s moratorium on cod fishing in 1992. Dan Murphy of Dunville, Newfoundland created a folk art protest of this state of affairs. But just to show you how prevalent fish eating was in the U.S., here’s some […]
The price of fish is something nice — for fishmongers through the centuries, that is. And over the years, observers noted the rise and fall in the cost of fish according to the liturgical season and changes in the rules of the Roman Catholic Church.* Because of the price of fish, or even the mere existence of fish in an otherwise protein-scarce environment, people utilized every bit of the fish in the same way they used the carcasses of pigs […]
Categories: Cooking, England, English Cooking, Fish, Lent • Tags: Blood-thickened sauces, Chaudron sauce, Chawdon sauce, Chawdron sauce, English cookery, Fish, Forme of Cury, Lent, Medieval Cookery, Samuel Pegge
Mackerel scales and mares’ tails Make lofty ships carry low sails. ‑Old Sailors’ Rain Warning‑ (Due to family obligations for a few weeks, I’m posting some previous posts that I’ve dusted off and updated. ) Alas, the poor mackerel! A sky resembling its scales bodes rains. An unfriendly person is “cold as a mackerel”. “Dead as a mackerel” leaves no doubt in a listener’s mind: so‑and‑so or such‑and‑such has moved on to clearer seas. Protestants called Catholics “mackerel snappers,” a […]
A continuation of our fascination with fish stomachs … The following fish tale comes from Elie Hunt, a member of the Kwakuitl Nation of British Columbia. Her husband, George Hunt, translated her account into English between 1908 and 1914. A relatively rare example of oral history, worth sharing. (I’ll confess that my visceral reaction to this food is not exactly politically correct — “YUCK” comes to mind — but then a lot of what I eat might provoke the same […]
Fish Stomachs???? You might believe that fishcakes, along with fritters and croquettes, began as members of the thrifty Leftovers family. But in fact, early medieval English cooks made fishcakes from fish stomachs, which many might consider carrying thrift just a little too far. There is actually a fishcake recipe, on page 170 of Madeleine Pelner Cosman’s Fabulous Feasts: Medieval Cookery and Ceremony, which calls for 1 cup of fish stomachs. (For those of you with a weakness for all things […]
According to Science Daily, Freshwater fish are an important part of the diet of many peoples around the world, but it has been unclear when fish became an important part of the year-round diet for early humans. A new study by an international team of researchers, including Erik Trinkaus, Ph.D., professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, shows it may have happened in China as far back as 40,000 years ago.
Fermented Foods, Especially Oilseeds, as Flavoring in the Cuisines of Africa Opo Iru ko ba obbe je. (Yoruba proverb): Plenty of Iru [dawadawa] does not spoil the stew. In Africa, as in other parts of the world, fermented foods form an important part of the diet. Made from plant and animal materials, these foods are transformed into more intensely flavored products by the presence of bacteria, yeasts, and molds. These modify the original foods (or substrates) physically, nutritionally, and organoleptically. […]
Use of Smoked and Dried Fish as a Flavoring in Africa When looking at the role of fish – smoked, dried, fresh, salted – in the diets of people in Africa, it is only natural to note that people settle most often by water, for the obvious reason that water drives life. Fish provided, and still provide, one of the major sources of animal protein in the diets of many people in Africa, almost 22% according to a report by […]
THE FISH-COOKS (p. 206) [Note: The Abbey paid the fish-cooks for their services, since these people did not belong to the cloistered community.] In the large monasteries, such as, for example, Edmundsbury, there were two cooks for the fish-dishes ; the first was properly called the “fish-cook,” the other was “pittance-cook.” Their appointment was made for life, and by letterspatent signed by the abbot in Chapter, with the prior and the community as witnesses. Though called the “fish-cooks” these servants […]
O le bi oju eja ti ehin ko le iwe. (Yoruba) : It is as hard as the eye of a (smoked) fish, which the teeth cannot break. [N.B. -- Applicable to any difficult matter.] (from Wit and Wisdom from West Africa, Richard Francis Burton) Most people who live to eat (definition: the food-obsessed) might recall talk of garum, a noisome fishy sauce used by the Romans to season their food. Likely the Romans “borrowed” the idea from the Greeks. […]
The Route to Sustainable Seafood … Food activism began when pioneers like Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and Sylvester Graham expressed concern over the poor diets of many Americans in the late nineteenth century, and really took off with the scathing work of socialist Upton Sinclair, author of The Jungle, a fictional exposé of Chicago’s meat-packing plants — Sinclair Lewis pilloried Upton Sinclair in his It Can’t Happen Here. I’ve always thought that the coincidence of both of them sharing the […]
Britain’s national dish is no longer bloody roasted beef, but rather fish and chips: batter fried fish and French fries, that is. Without fish and chips, eaten by millions of Englishmen everyday, the British economy would probably plummet and the national health care service grapple with more heart patients, no doubt. But fish and chips must be done just so in order to qualify as the REAL thing.