a book about cod


“a biography of the fish that changed the world” is the subtitle of cod (1997) by mark kurlansky & succinctly describes this interesting book / kurlansky is the 1999 winner of the james beard award \ the highest honor for food and beverage professionals working in north america

though tasteless & flavorless, cod meat is more than 18% protein and only 0.3% fat / when dried  it is nearly 80% protein \ a basque-speaking cod hauled by a medieval fisherman from a basque folktale begins the fascinating story of this once highly valuable fish / basques were able to travel long voyages because they knew where to find huge schools of cod & which they salted \ this provided them with a nutritious supply that would not spoil for a long time / but the vikings had actually been curing cod centuries before the basques \ the difference is that unlike the basques, they did not have salt / they preserved cod by drying them in the frosty winter air \ because of its long history as preserved food, cod is generally thought of in its dried version, not fresh

it would not have occurred to me that this material for fish sticks that my favorite young people love had such an impact in the economic & thus political history of the new world <politics & economics tend to be intertwined>\ the entrepreneurial spirit of the colonists came to fore in their fight to keep their fishing & trade rights / rearing the head for colonial independence & bringing to fruition adam smith’s theory of the “invisible hand” <& the benefits of a free market & the growth of trade> \ i think books such as this give life and make the teaching & learning of history and economic theory much more interesting

one interesting bit of history is that during the time that the british were successfully fishing new england waters & supplying the cod market, the pilgrims were starving! \ in 1624, there were 50 british ships fishing the coasts of new england, up from 10 in 1621 when the pilgrims first arrived / aside from being unprepared <they did not know how to farm, fish or hunt> & the influx of more and more pilgrims, another reason given for their failure to take advantage of this abundant resource <cape cod, hello> is their rejection of unfamiliar food \ it must be a british cultural trait / the same behavior is noted in other books written about in this blog <books about india pale ale, rubber & tea>

interesting too are the innovations developed in the fishing industry where the cod is the central character / among them was freeze drying \ invented by the new yorker clarence birdseye / he sold his company to the postum company \ whose owner renamed his company to general foods / filleting machinery was introduced in 1921 & reduced waste \ freezing + filleting = fish fillets or sticks / and it became a commercial success / “scrod” which is a small cod fillet became a household word with the industrialization of filleting / the gorton company still makes fish sticks <you can find it in the supermarket’s frozen section> \ fish sticks are now mostly made from pacific pollock

the last section of the book  which is less interesting to me is about the damage done by overfishing & how countries try to mitigate its effects / overall, an excellent read, very well-written \ interesting, entertaining & informative

my favorite curmudgeon had suggested another mark kurlansky book “salt” but i chose to read this / next will be about the basques

summer beer project | day 7

imagecan’t believe this is the last day / time really flies when you’re working < folks at beach condo office & passersby where i was working were nice & sympathetic> \ for the finale, it is sixty one / captures the tradition of two dogfish innovations: beer/wine hybrids & continuous hopping.  syrah grape juice is added as well as lots of hops, 6.8% abv \ i like it <and it’s an IPA!> but it has no distinctive quality / some of the food menu items were replaced \ i had “fried quail waffle” / my kind of fowl!

this is likely the last of my summer dogfish beer project \ time to expand my beer horizon

summer beer project | day 6

imagegood food & beer and the company of family / just what i needed after a long day of work <remotely from the beach> \ yes, that is how i am spending my summer beach half-vacation / but it’s okay, i like my job & my colleagues \ so it is noble rot at dinner today / a saison science project.  complexity & fermentable sugars for this funky ale come from grapes that have been infected by the benevolent fungus called botrytis, 9% abv \ does not sound pretty / but it is a technique borrowed from the finer wine \ and it did taste like white wine / though to my palate, better \ love the caesar salad& my favorite young people finally had the brownies they had been craving for

from wikipedia:  Noble rot (French: pourriture noble; German: Edelfäule; Italian: Muffa nobile; Hungarian: Aszúsodás) is the benevolent form of a grey fungus, Botrytis cinerea, affecting wine grapes. Infestation by Botrytis requires moist conditions. If the weather stays wet, the malevolent form, “grey rot,” can destroy crops of grapes. Grapes typically become infected with Botrytis when they are ripe. If they are then exposed to drier conditions and become partially raisined this form of infection brought about by the partial drying process is known as noble rot. Grapes when picked at a certain point during infestation can produce particularly fine and concentrated sweet wine. Some of the finest Botrytized wines are literally picked berry by berry in successive tries (French for “selections”).

summer beer project | day 5

i have to stay sharp & get a quick lunch today so having namaste which is just 5% abv / a belgian-style white made with dried organic orange slices, fresh cut lemongrass & a bit of coriander.  this beer is a great summer quencher. \ agree! / i like its lingering lemongrass coriander flavor \ this is now available year-round in bottle \ best as draft though / meatloaf sandwich without the bread was not bad

namaste is sanskrit greeting for hello or farewell