The Cod Species
Boston Fish House Recipes, 1940s
It may seem strange that for years, in the Representatives' Hall in the State House at Boston, above the heads of the wise men assembled in the hall, there should hang a huge codfish. But it does not seem strange at all when we recall the circumstances of the founding of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
It was in 1504 that the waters adjacent to Newfoundland, abounding with cod, were visited by the French, and in 1517 by the Spanish. Nearly four hundred years ago, the English, under the leadership of Sir Francis Drake, began to frequent the Banks, and other nations have braved the perils of fog and storm in order to secure a supply of this sea food. Bartholomew Gosnold, the first navigator known to have visited New England waters, explored its coasts in 1602 and on reaching the sandy Cape of Massachusetts found the fish so abundant that he littered his deck with them, and was led to bestow upon the peninsula the name "Cape Cod," which it still bears. The value of codfish to the early settlers of New England was shown when the symbol of the Sacred Cod was hung in the Legislative hall.
Codfish are of a greenish brown when fresh from the water and are spotted with reddish yellow. They generally vary in weight from 3 to 8 pounds, but some have been caught weighing as much as 100 pounds. Most cod are caught at George's Bank and Brown's Bank by trawls, but hand lines and nets are also used. The majority are caught in 10 to 75 fathoms, few being caught much deeper than 100 fathoms. When first hatched the young cod float helplessly, yolk uppermost for about two days, when they assume a normal position.
The favorite way of serving fresh codfish is boiled, scalloped, baked, or fried in steaks. It is generally well liked, and ranks with the best sea foods.
Of obscure interest, "cod" is also referred to as "scrod" in New England at times.