Sunday, December 4, 2011
The Salt Cod Experiment
George Mallory said he climbed Everest because "It was there". I could say the same thing, albeit on a smaller and fishy scale, about why I spent fourteen dollars on a box of salt cod. I could not resist it after seeing Mario Batali extol it on "Molto Mario". Perhaps it has the appeal of a grandmother's beloved dish, but to open its wooden box leads to dismay. Even after soaking it for two days, and changing the water five times, a smell persisted that I can only compare to an unwashed body. Once baked as fish cakes, the smell diminished. They were edible. But the question remains, now that we have refrigerators, why we would eat fish that has to sit in a bowl of water for 48 hours. I remember the wonderful scene in "Babette's Feast" when the elderly sister shows Babette how to prepare dried fish. "Babette can cook" Auguste Pepin ,the famous singer ,tells the sisters in a letter asking them to give asylum to this great French chef. But Babette, cooking her feast for her benefactors ,did not serve salt cod.
Perhaps it is an acquired taste, and my apologies to any one who considers it sacred. And the expiration date was 2013, so it was not spoiled.