When I was growing up, every time I would go to my mother with a problem or angst, she would always say, after hearing my complaint, “If that’s the worst thing that ever happens to you, you’ll be lucky.”
Undoubtedly she was correct but since the difficulty at hand was rocking my world, it’s not what I needed to hear. However, her words recently landed squarely in my sink full of dirty bowls, pots and utensils, the tangible results of my failed attempt at this week’s FFWD recipe.
Cod and Spinach Roulades. Dorie describes this dish as ‘a light, elegant fish mousse filled with lemony spinach, rolled into a chubby sausage shape and steamed.‘
My effort? Not even close.
To be honest, at first I was terribly disappointed, stressed and, yes, even embarrassed. That’s when I thought of my dear mother. In a week of untold tragedy coupled with the inability to pass watered-down gun safety legislation, this failure wasn’t worth a whine or a wallow.
It was, I decided, an opportune time for me to pull Mark Kurlansky’s award-winning book, “Cod: The Fish that Changed the World” off my shelf. If I couldn’t cook cod properly, I could at least learn more about it. Having won a 1999 James Beard Book Award as well as a glowing recommendation by book reviewer Molly Benjamin**, this fish tale deserved my attention.
The Library Journal writes, “In this engaging history of a “1000-year fishing spree”, Kurlansky traces the relationship of cod fishery to such historical eras and events as medieval Christianity and Christian observances; international conflicts between England and Germany over Icelandic cod; slavery, the molasses trade, and the dismantling of the British Empire; and, the evolution of a sophisticated fishing industry in New England.”
Admittedly I am just beginning this 306-page book but I gotta tell you, it’s a gee-whiz-I-didn’t-know-that page turner. That the Atlantic cod has been fished almost to extinction is alarming. But already there are two things I know for sure:
1) In its 1,000 years of history as related in this book, Cod has never won. I’m no longer upset that this humble little creature laid me low.
2) I’ll never eat fish-and-chips again. Just wouldn’t seem right.
** “This eminently readable book is a new tool for scanning world history. It leads to a vastly different perception of why folks did what they did…. Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World is history filtered through the gills of the fish trade.” The New York Times Book Review, Molly Benjamin