Fish and Shellfish Skewers / Fisk og Skalldyrspidd

A tempting barbecue recipe found in “God Mat fra Sjøen”
(Nice Food from the Sea) published by Gyldendal in 1984

Fish and Shellfish Skewers / Fisk og Skalldyrspidd

When Easter is over, it’s time to get the barbecue out of the shed. And why not skip the hamburger and hot dogs for once and cook some juicy seafood skewers instead.

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Hungry History: Lobsters

Hungry History: Lobsters

Ian Knauer at history.com dives into lowbrow history of a pricey food as he assembles two versions of a delicious lobster roll.

You wouldn’t suspect, perhaps, that a close relative of grasshoppers and tarantulas could be widely considered an elegant Hungry History: Lobstersindulgence in the United States or any other nation of generally sophisticated palates.

And yet, every time a chef proudly presents a lobster-based creation as a signature dish, that’s exactly what’s going on. Prepared broiled in butter or scampi, Newburg or in bisque, the lobster—a member of the invertebrate phylum Arthropoda just like insects and spiders—has held a place of honor at countless festive feasts and romantic repasts for well over a century. Nonetheless, trappers have a prosaic nickname for lobsters: bugs.

Lobster’s appeal as a special delicacy wasn’t always so, but not because Americans were necessarily repulsed by lobster’s less appetizing cousins. Rather, back in the colonial era, the clawed crustacean was so abundant that it was hardly deemed exceptional.

Hungry History: LobstersA three-term governor of Plymouth Colony who came over on the Mayflower, Edward Winslow, for instance, wrote to an English friend in 1621 that “Our Bay is full of Lobsters all the Summer.” At the end of that decade, Francis Higginson of Salem, Massachusetts, wrote in his book “New England’s Plantation, or a short and true description of the Commodities of that Country” that the “abundance of sea-fish are almost beyond believing … We take an abundance of lobsters, and the least boy in the Plantation may both catch and eat what he will of them. For my own part, I was soon cloyed with them, they were so great, and fat, and luscious.”

Hungry History: Lobsters

Travel ahead one century and several hundred miles northeast to Nova Scotia, and the situation was similar. In his 1876 book “The Emigrant and Sportsman in Canada: Some Experiences of An Old Country Settler,” essayist John J. Rowan recounted that “on still summer nights, lobster spearing parties are the fashion among Halifax people … On one occasion, I saw several acres of potato ground manured Hungry History: Lobsterswith them … Lobster shells about a house are looked upon as signs of poverty and degradation.”

Yet despite Rowan’s observations, times were in fact changing, and the transformation of Homarus americanus (American, or Maine, lobster) from fertilizer to fanciful indulgence had already begun in the United States by the mid-19th century.

The secret ingredient to lobster becoming a luxury was coal. Not on a barbecue, but as the fuel that powered steam-engine locomotives, explained culinary historian and consultant Lou Greenstein of North Reading, Massachusetts. “As the Industrial Revolution got underway and railroads were built, the capacity existed for perishable foods like lobster to be packed in ice and transported from the point of origin to inland places like Chicago,” said Greenstein, author of “A la Carte: A Tour of Dining History.” Hungry History: LobstersThe perceived romance of the travel story involved—not to mention the very real expense—added to the cachet of regionally “exotic” foods.

What’s more, the fact that eating multi-jointed lobster presented intrinsic logistical difficulties made it even more desirable to some. In the Victorian era, “labor was inexpensive,” explained Greenstein. “So a lot of the dishes served from the 1850s on featured lobster that had already been picked, like molded lobster salad. This way, servants did the work, and Victorian ladies didn’t have to go through the ordeal of eating something difficult in public. Even lobster Newburg—it can be served in the shell, but it was already picked.”

Hungry History: LobstersYet if, on the one claw, lobster has maintained its overall reputation as a luxury food, it has, on the other, spawned a very particular kind of informal dining experience in coastal New England: the lobster shack.

Mike Urban, a Connecticut resident and author of the book “Lobster Shacks: A Road Guide to New England’s Best Lobster Joints,” said that the first lobster shack most likely emerged in the early 1900s in Maine. “The first ones were offshoots of a lobsterman’s business,” he hypothesized. “His wife or kids might have begun cooking some of the catch right on the dock, for locals. They started small.”

Hungry History: LobstersOne of the earliest lobster shacks whose history Urban can document is Bayley’s Lobster Pound in Scarborough, Maine. Based in a small commercial shack he bought, Steve Bayley lobstered to supplement the income he earned at a clam-packing plant, where he worked beginning in 1916. Sometimes, after he’d supplied lobsters to all his nearby restaurant and market clients, “he would pack overcatch in suitcases, jump on a Portland-bound train and sell it at a local market there,” said Urban. From there, it became a small logical leap to prepare and sell simple boiled lobsters and lobster rolls (possibly a Bayley invention, too) right at the shack, cutting out middlemen. Today, the third and fourth generations of Bayley family members run the seasonal business. And in the century since Bayley’s began, shacks have come to densely dot the New England coast.

Hungry History: Lobsters

A drive or train ride away, New York’s Delmonico’s—in business, on and off, since 1827, but currently thriving on Beaver Street in a Victorian-era building—is also central to the lobster cuisine story. It was one of the first fine restaurants to serve lobster, according to Greenstein. Even more significant, a new way of preparing lobster—with butter, cream, Madeira and eggs—was introduced to one of the original Delmonico brothers by world-traveling sea captain Ben Wenberg in 1876. Lobster à la Wenberg became a favorite of patrons, but when Wenberg and Delmonico had a falling-out, the new specialty fell off the menu, too. When requests for the dish could no longer be ignored, though, it returned—with the letter-shifted name of Lobster à la Newberg (or Newburg, as it’s now spelled).

If the Puritans could see the esteem in which lobster is held today, they would doubtless be shell-shocked. But with melted butter easing its ascent, Homarus americanus clawed its way to the top, and it looks like it’s here to stay.

Shrimp and Orange en Coquille / Reker og Appelsin en Coquille

A shelfish recipe found in “Famous Florida Chef’s
Favourite Citrus Recipes” published in 1970

Shrimp and Orange en Coquille / Reker og Appelsin en Coquille

En Qoquille; any of various seafood or chicken dishes baked with a sauce and usually served in a scallop shell or a shell-shaped serving dish.

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Party Dressed Fish / Selskapsfin Fisk

A classic fish dinner recipe found in “Fisk og Skalldyr” (Fish and Shellfish) published by Hjemmets Kokebokklubb in 1980Party Dressed Fish / Selskapsfin Fisk

White fish, rice, asparagus and shrimps is a classic Scandinavian dinner dish combination and can be found in a multitude of recipes from our little part of the world. It is as the title of the post suggests classic party food. It was when this book was published in 1980 and it so absolutely still is – Ted

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Ragoût de Poissons Normand – Fish Ragout with Prawns / Fiskeragu med Reker

A delicious fish ragout recipe found in “Fransk Bondekost”
(French Farmhouse Cooking) published by
Hjemmets Kokebokklubb in in 1980
Ragoût de Poissons Normand – Fish Ragout with Prawns / Fiskeragu med Reker

Fish soup recipes are ten a dozen but decent fish ragout recipes are scarce on the ground. This makes it all the more delightful when one as nice as this one turns up.

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Fried Cod and Shrimp Panettas with Spicy Noodle Salad / Stekte Torsk- og Rekepanetter med Krydret Nudelsalat

A spicy Asian inspired dinner recipe found on kiwi.no
Stekte torsk- og rekepanetter med krydret nudelsalat_post

Thick oblong panettas made with cod and shrimps breaded with flaked coconut and served with a hot fried noodle salad that smells deliciously of the far east is a combination that should tempt the most choosy among people.

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A Crab Evening for 4 Sixties Style / Krabbeaften for 4 Som På Sekstitallet

A party suggestion with menu and recipes found in
“Vi Skal Ha Gjester” (We’re Having Guests)
published by Johan Grundt Tanum Forlag in 1969

A Crab Evening for 4 Sixties Style / Krabbeaften for 4 Som På Sekstitallet

“Vi skal ha gjester” is not a cook book in the normal sense of the word, it is a book on hosting parties at home with menu suggestions and recipes.

And have times changed in the nearly fifty years since this book was written. How anyone dared to invite even their closest friend for dinner after having read in this book what it would take to make it a successfull evening I can’t imagine. What table cloth, what sort of flower arrangement and what sort of candles to use for what sort of  evening was the least of the problems you had to tackle.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, those were hard times visitors. A time full of etiquette pitfalls and embarrasing situations. With a variety of blunders that could as we would say here in Norway, leave you standing with your ass bared.

Ted
Winking smile

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Nordic Dip / Nordisk Dipp

A flashback from the seventies found on “European Favourites” published by Collins in 1973
Nordic Dip / Nordisk Dipp

This may very well be a Nordic kind of dip from the early seventies. Paprika was high fashion among the cooking savoir faire back then and you risked getting celery in dishes where they far from belonged. Probably because some local health guru had sworn to its many benefits.

I can even remember a tv ad proclaiming celery’s magnificence as snacks. With this dip you could actually end up dipping pieces of celery in a dip containing celery. I’ve said it before, those were hard times back then.

To make it even worse, the horrid disco music  was lurking in the near future. A few years later you could actually risk sitting somewhere overdosing on celery listening to that horrible music. – Ted

Winking smile
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Crab and Prawn Pasty / Britisk Pasty Med Krabbe Og Reker

A traditional pasty recipe with a modern twist
found on
about.com/food/
Crab and Prawn Pasty_britishfood.about_post

A traditional pasty recipe will invariably contain meat but a delicious alternative is a Crab and Prawn Pasty. This pasty recipe is light yet very nutritious with such a lovely filling. Buy fresh crab meat when possible, if not, tinned white crab meat is also excellent.

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Matelote Alsacienne – Fish Casserole from Alsace / Fiskegryte fra Alsace

A delicious fish recipe found in “Fransk Bondekost”
(French Farmhouse Cooking) published by
Hjemmets Kokebokklubb in in 1980

Matelote Alsacienne – Fish Casserole from Alsace / Fiskegryte fra Alsace

It is not correct to use the term “cousine” of French farmhouse cooking. It is more a natural part of life. There is no Machiavellian refinements or superfluous embellishments. Wholesome, tasty, simple ingredients in dishes to suit season, climate and workload.

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Classic Prawn Cocktail / Klassisk Rekecocktail

A classic appetizer recipe found on goodhousekeeping.co.uk
Classic Prawn Cocktail / Klassisk Rekecocktail

This delicious ever-popular starter has no cooking involved,
so it’s no hassle to prepare!

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Town Mayor Toast With Prawns / Borgmästaretoast Med Räkor

A rich canapé starter recipe found on koket.se
Borgmästaretoast med räkor_post

Town mayor toast with prawns toast or toast with luxurious touch of shrimp and caviar – perfect for starters!

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Peel-and-eat Shrimp with Spicy Herb Butter / Rens-og-Spis Reker Med Krydret Urtesmør

A delicious and simpel seafood recipe found on saveur.com
Peel-and-eat Shrimp with Spicy Herb Butter / Rens-og-Spis Reker Med Krydret Urtesmør

A great way to eat fresh shrimps and a bit more exciting than the traditional way we do it here in Norway: spread on fresh white bread, topped with mayonnaise, freshly ground pepper and dripped with lemon juice. It is not unlikely that I’ll try this the next time the lust for shrimps grabs me (but I won’t skip the white bread though) – Ted  😉

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Scampi as in Greece / Scampi på Gresk

A delicious shelfish recipe found in “Carl Butlers Kokebok – Fortsettelsen” (Carl Butler’s Cook Book – The Continuance)
published in 1991

Scampi as in Greece / Scampi på Gresk

If you have been to Greece, you are probably recognising this dish. You can make either with scampi or with large prawns.

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Japanese Omelette / Japansk Omelett

A lunch recipe found in “Internasjonale Retter med Norsk Fisk” (International dishes with Norwegian Fish) published
by Wennergren – Cappelen in 1987
Japanese Omelette / Japansk Omelett

Chirashi Sushi is a Japanese dish consisting of rice and shellfish, vegetables and spices. It is all put into a thin omelette and served  beautifully on a platter.

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