Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Five on Fish

The blog The Perfect Pantry requested that readers suggest five favorite food books. I suggested five about fish, and here they are with my comments and links to my previous posts:
  • Eleanor Clark, The Oysters of Locmariaquer. This is a wonderful story about the once-isolated north coast of France. It's definitely still worth reading almost 50 years after its publication.
  • Trevor Corson, The Secret Life of Lobsters: which reveals the life history of the lobster in the context of the controversy in Maine about the best way to conserve the lobster fisheries. The lobstermen are really the heroes of this book. I bought it while in Maine, which made me like it all the better. Corson also wrote The Zen of Fish -- I reviewed it here: Reading "The Zen of Fish" by Trevor Corson and after that, wrote a whole series of posts on sushi. It really got me started!
  • Theodore Bestor, Tsukiji: The Fish Market at the Center of the World -- a wonderful study of the largest fish market in the world, where Tokyo and all Japan buy and sell fish for sushi and every other use, which I reviewed here: Far-away Food
  • Mark Kurlansky, Cod: this is a great wide-ranging history book, all seen through the lens of cod and how it was fished in the north and dried and then consumed in so many places. Kurlansky also wrote The Big Oyster -- my review here: From "The Big Oyster"
  • Joseph Wechsberg, Blue Trout and Black Truffle: the Peregrinations of an Epicure: OK, this collection of essays from the early 1950s is about more than just fish, but it still has a lot of appeal. His description of the deterioration of foodways behind the Iron Curtain provides an offbeat insight into that era. He's also good at mild irony about many pretensions; for example, the ship's carpenter who in Wechsberg's view made the best bouillabaisse provided him with a way to criticize a fad: "Etienne-Marcel would ... say: "Not that it is any of your damn business, but let me tell you -- I would not mind eating my own grandmother, God bless her, if she were properly cooked in white wine and seasoned with garlic, fennel, and saffron.' It was his version of a Provencal proverb." (p. 208)

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