Bryan G. Newman
Last updated January 2017.
Fresh cod on French menus:
On menus, the French names Morue, without any additional name, or Stockfish indicates that the dish will be using the popular and traditional desalted and rehydrated dried salted cod.
In pre- refrigeration times dried and salted cod was a massive industry; it existed for hundreds of years, and in a smaller form it still exists today. In many countries other than France, the words used are baccala, bacalao or baclhau, while some countries the same or similar words are used for fresh cod; the confusion should not be too surprising considering the age of the industry. In Italy, reconstituted cod is called stoccafisso and it is the key ingredient in that traditional, and much loved dish, bacala' alla Vicentina, cod in the Venetian manner.
To prepare dried salted cod for cooking requires experience and patience; it takes three or four days of soaking and changing the water to have the cod reconstituted. Most French homes are pleased to let the fishmongers do this part of the work.
For those who enjoy visiting food markets, Nîmes has an active and diverting food and fish market, not overly large, called Les Halles. The market serves both retail and wholesale customers, and it is right in the center of the town. From my own experience, the vendors are knowledgeable, and mostly helpful; but you need to get there before 12:00.
Apart from being a tasty fish cod, is and was a political fish; it is a fish that France and other countries went to war over. Long before the oil producers and their excise of economic power, seafaring nations fought all over the world for the control of spices, and after spices came wars over fishing rights with wars over cod fishing rights leading the battle.
St Andrews Scotland, fishing for cod.
Photograph courtesy of Simon Swales.
For an excellent read on cod's effect on the world's economies, as well as the problems of over- fishing, and much more read “Cod; ” a book by Mark Kurlansky. It is a unique insight into the history of this important fish. The paperback edition I read was published by Penguin.
We had eaten in this restaurant before and enjoyed everything, so we tried the skrei, which also was excellent; it had been prepared in individual pastry casings and was and served with a sauce.
At the table, the nearest fish that I could associate with the taste and texture was cod and I already new that this was a cod family member. Through the internet and Fish Base I later found out that skrei was the Norwegian name for salted and dried cod, morue in French. Since then have spent some fruitless moments considering how this Norwegian name arrived in Alsace, France where the name morue is also used. None of my musings come close to a logical answer; foes anyone have an idea how the name skrei came to the Alsace?
Fresh cod in other languages:
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