Another One-Minute Book, or, Fishy, Fishy, Fishy, Oh! It went wherever I did go

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Get edified in a jiffy! Here's a sampling from another review copy: Fish On Friday: Feasting, fasting and the discovery of the New World by Brian Fagan:

Page 1

Let us now consider how great a terror will come upon us created things, in this present time, when the Judgment draws near; and the revelation of that day will be very terrible to all created things…

Page 8

Roman Seafood Stew

SERVES 6

1¼ lbs/500 g fish fillet in bit-size pieces—ideally halibut or salmon
8 oz/250 ml white wine, preferably a flowery tasting sauvignon blanc (Roman white wines are frequently described as "flowery.")
17 oz/500 ml beef broth…

Page 27

And if the angler catches fish, surely then there is no happier man.

Page 64

Powerful local chieftains in search of prestige more than profits traded stockfish for grain from communities far to the south when Norse voyaging was at its height, long before a full-scale commercial cod fishery developed between A.D. 1150 and 1200.

Page 125

The glory years of the herring fisheries occurred in the early fourteenth century, but catches fell rapidly thereafter, recovering after 1400 but then dipping rapidly for reasons that still elude explanation—perhaps because of still unstudied changes in seawater temperatures.

Page 216

As always, Bristol's leaders were merchants who put profit first, not empire building.

The book ends shortly before the next page in the series, so here's something from the last page of the regular text:

It was not the sudden inspiration of famous names that brought Europeans to North America—not Columbus or Cabot or the settlers at Plymouth Rock—but the thousand-year journey in pursuit of fish.

And here's one I like even better, from the last page of the end notes:

Known popularly as the "Merry Monarch," Charles was a controversial ruler, an impulsive, pleasure-loving king who fostered science and navigation, and enhanced Britain's navy.

NEXT: Endgame In New London, or, Another Successful Five-Year Plan

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  1. You rat! Where’s the rest of the recipe?

  2. Tim, I genuinely like your random-sampling method! You should start doing this in the print edition of the magazine.

  3. Hey, if you buy the book you get that and many more recipes: 3 chopped leeks; 3.5 oz olive oil; 1? oz fish sauce; coriander, loveage, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Slow simmer liquids. Add fish for 10 minutes. Remove fish to warm serving dish, boil liquid to reduce in volume, add seasonings, then add to the fish.

  4. “Larks’ tongues. Otters’ noses. Ocelot spleens.”

    The only real Roman food is Roman Republic/Empire food. On a (heh, heh) lark once, I bought a cookbook for that kind of Roman cuisine. Haven’t generated the cajones to actually prepare any of those recipes just yet. But I will. Oh, yes.

  5. I’m midway through this book, and it’s quite a read. Lots of visceral medieval stuff…with recipes!

    Here’s another sampling:

    5–“Then there was garum, sauce fermented from the viscera of rotting fish and used as a condiment by virtually all Romans, rich and poor, who poured it on fish, meat, and vegetables.”

    49–“Heavily salted medieval herring were disliked by the poor and the sailors and soldiers who received them as rations. The fish were dry, sticklike, and either tasteless or rancid, like a very poor form of modern day jerky.”

    And check out the recipes for “A Jellie of Fysshe” on page 100, a sort of seafood medley aspic, and “Smoked Eel, Bacon, and Mash” on page 33. Yum!

  6. On a (heh, heh) lark once, I bought a cookbook for that kind of Roman cuisine. Haven’t generated the cajones to actually prepare any of those recipes just yet. But I will. Oh, yes.

    Don’t forget to try a doormice recipe. And do let me know how it tastes.

    I purchased a re-published antique cookbook of aphrodisiatic dishes…there are a lot of really weird recipes in their, too…they border on witch spells, if you ask me.

    Often I find myself doing the random-page test for books, too. I always thought it is a good way to tell if a book would be interesting or not. The downside of this test is that it works so well that I blew off an awful lot of assigned reading in school.

  7. Gahh! I mean there, not their.

  8. Actually, I do recall a dormouse recipe. Breaks the ice at parties.

  9. Thank you for the Monty Python allusion. Next: “Give her a kiss, boy!”

  10. On a (heh, heh) lark once, I bought a cookbook for that kind of Roman cuisine.

    Do they give instructions on how to reproduce the correct lead content for the water? 🙂

    I saw a program on PBS about Rome where they said that the plumbing in the city while being a significant advance in sanitation caused a lot of problems. One of these was a loss of the sense of taste, so that Romans had to add more and more spices and peppers to food just to get some flavor to show up.

    While I’m sure that the thirty-five year old lead-soldered plumbing in my house adds plenty of lead to my diet, I’m certain it comes nowhere close to that imparted by pure lead pipes.

    Of course I’m sure at least one of my German ancestors had a hand in ending those effete Roman ways. Indoor plumbing indeed, harumph. Damn Romans, think they’re so fancy, we’ll show ’em.

  11. “Larks’ tongues. Otters’ noses. Ocelot spleens.”

    The only real Roman food is Roman Republic/Empire food. On a (heh, heh) lark once, I bought a cookbook for that kind of Roman cuisine. Haven’t generated the cajones to actually prepare any of those recipes just yet. But I will. Oh, yes.

    I’m pretty sure ocelots are a protected species, with trade in body parts restricted, so I’d skip that dish.

    Heyyyyy … wait, ocelots are only found in the Americas — how’d that get in a Roman cookbook? I must assume this was not literally one of the recipes.

  12. Stevo, Stevo, Stevo.

    See Brian, Life of. Search the script for “ocelot”.

    As for Romans and lead poisoning, I’m rather dubious of how badly they were affected by “the lead pipe”. After all, they managed to run the Republic and the Empire rather well for quite a long time. Hard to assert that large numbers of the population–or even of just the city of Rome–were bonkers from lead poisoning.

    And, as for the Germans, well, if you ask me, it was their exposure to and their adoption of many of those “effete” Roman ways that helped them defeat the Romans in the first place. That, and the Romans adopting many “less effete” Germanic ways in conducting war. Oops. For the record, I’m chock full of German ancestors myself, but you’ve got to give it to the Romans.

  13. ROMANES EUNT DOMUS

  14. smacky,

    Huh? People called Romanes they go the house?

  15. . . .So therefore, I must vote no on the bill to expand the port of Ostia at this time. Ceterum censeo Serverinem esse delendam.

  16. … and I still think going to Africa was a big mistake.

  17. After all, they managed to run the Republic and the Empire rather well for quite a long time. Hard to assert that large numbers of the population–or even of just the city of Rome–were bonkers from lead poisoning.

    Oh, I doubt they were bonkers, exactly. After all lead pipes have been the norm for most of the history of indoor plumbing* and Those societies that had it were always better off than those that did not. The health effects were probably minor (as I said, things like loss of sense of taste).

    And, as for the Germans, well, if you ask me, it was their exposure to and their adoption of many of those “effete” Roman ways that helped them defeat the Romans in the first place.

    Oh, I think you’re probably right. I was just attempting a lame joke. That’s why I haven’t quit the day job. 🙂

    *After all that’s why they call it “plumbing”.

  18. smacky,

    Okay, I’m home and have found the cookbook. It’s called The Classical Cookbook and covers ancient Roman and Greek cuisine. Unfortunately, there isn’t a dormice recipe, per se, but there is a reference to “dormice glazed in honey and rolled in poppy seeds”. Yum.

    Also unfortunately, the recipes are pretty standard. Nothing weird at all with the Greek recipes, and the oddest Roman recipe is “Honeyed Mushrooms”. I won’t bother replicating the recipe here, but I will share the ingredients:

    • 1 T olive oil
    • 1 T fish sauce
    • 1 T honey
    • 2 tsp. chopped fresh lovage (lovage?) or celery leaf
    • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
    • 8 oz. large open mushrooms, thickly sliced
  19. smacky,

    Okay, I’m home and have found the cookbook. It’s called The Classical Cookbook and covers ancient Roman and Greek cuisine. Unfortunately, there isn’t a dormice recipe, per se, but there is a reference to “dormice glazed in honey and rolled in poppy seeds”. Yum.

    Also unfortunately, the recipes are pretty standard. Nothing weird at all with the Greek recipes, and the oddest Roman recipe is “Honeyed Mushrooms”. I won’t bother replicating the recipe here, but I will share the ingredients:

    • 1 T olive oil
    • 1 T fish sauce
    • 1 T honey
    • 2 tsp. chopped fresh lovage (lovage?) or celery leaf
    • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
    • 8 oz. large open mushrooms, thickly sliced

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