Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World

Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World

Mark Kurlansky

Language: English

Pages: 294

ISBN: 0140275010

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


From the Bestselling Author of Salt and The Basque History of the World

Cod, Mark Kurlansky’s third work of nonfiction and winner of the 1999 James Beard Award, is the biography of a single species of fish, but it may as well be a world history with this humble fish as its recurring main character. Cod, it turns out, is the reason Europeans set sail across the Atlantic, and it is the only reason they could. What did the Vikings eat in icy Greenland and on the five expeditions to America recorded in the Icelandic sagas? Cod, frozen and dried in the frosty air, then broken into pieces and eaten like hardtack. What was the staple of the medieval diet? Cod again, sold salted by the Basques, an enigmatic people with a mysterious, unlimited supply of cod. As we make our way through the centuries of cod history, we also find a delicious legacy of recipes, and the tragic story of environmental failure, of depleted fishing stocks where once their numbers were legendary. In this lovely, thoughtful history, Mark Kurlansky ponders the question: Is the fish that changed the world forever changed by the world's folly?

“A charming fish tale and a pretty gift for your favorite seafood cook or fishing monomaniac. But in the last analysis, it’s a bitter ecological fable for our time.” –Los Angeles Times

“Every once in a while a writer of particular skill takes a fresh, seemingly improbable idea and turns out a book of pure delight. Such is the case of Mark Kurlansky and the codfish.” –David McCullough

“One of the 25 Best Books of the Year.” –The New York Public Library

Mark Kurlansky is the author of many books including Salt, The Basque History of the World, 1968, and The Big Oyster. His newest book is Birdseye.

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their fish in Boston. British warships kept New England fishermen from working the Grand Banks, but New England fishermen, with their fast schooners, made their waters dangerous for any pro-British ship. Gloucester schooners were outfitted with gun carriages. Ironically, the first of these armed schooners was named the Britannia. It was rigged with eight old cannons mounted on newly built carriages. This modest firepower was supplemented by small arms. In 1776 alone, such privateer schooners

these failures had never resulted in the disappearance of cod but had only been caused by temporary shifts in migratory patterns, perhaps in response to temperature changes. In the 1980s and early 1990s, the Canadian government assumed that Newfoundland waters were again experiencing this well-known phenomenon. Ralph Mayo, a marine biologist for the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service who studies Georges Bank from the Woods Hole, Massachusetts, laboratory, calls this “the perception problem.”

of the moratorium he had gone out of business with a debt of one million Canadian dollars. Commercially successful fish farms reduce operating costs by feeding pellets of pressed fish meal rather than wild bait fish. In the case of salmon, they are also fed artificial coloring to give them the pink tint they acquire in the wild from eating crustaceans. Gastronomically, a wild salmon and a farmed salmon have as much in common as a side of wild boar has with pork chops. Not only gastronomes but

of the moratorium he had gone out of business with a debt of one million Canadian dollars. Commercially successful fish farms reduce operating costs by feeding pellets of pressed fish meal rather than wild bait fish. In the case of salmon, they are also fed artificial coloring to give them the pink tint they acquire in the wild from eating crustaceans. Gastronomically, a wild salmon and a farmed salmon have as much in common as a side of wild boar has with pork chops. Not only gastronomes but

minutes and cool. Bone skin and chop fine. Add anchovies, parsley, pepper, cheese, bread and eggs and mix very well. Shape into croquettes, roll in flour, dip into egg, roll in bread crumbs and fry in olive oil until brown all over. Frying time will be about four minutes on each side. Serves 4. —Ada Boni, Talismano della Felícità, 1950 PORTUGAL: SONHOS DE BACALHAU 1 cup shredded salted codfish 1 cup flour 1 cup water 1 tablespoon butter salt and pepper to taste 3 eggs Soak two

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