On Men, Codfish, Raw Oysters, and Other Musings

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Oyster beds in Cape Cod.
There's a certain kind of man who never fails to impress me, a guy who does things (apart from the obvious) that I could never do. Vacationing in Cape Cod last week, I met one of them: the contractor who was renovating the upstairs loft in my sister's new house in Chatham. After a full day of putting up sheetrock, this 60-something specimen showed up for dinner freshly showered in a nicely ironed pair of jeans and a black shirt, lugging a cooler full of oysters and clams that he had RAISED in his OWN BEDS, and proceeded to shuck them and serve half raw with a squeeze of lemon and the other half briefly broiled in the toaster oven with a crisp bacon topping.

*Sigh*?!?

Coincidentally, a tome called The Stag Cook Book fell into my hands recently, a charming, testosterone-fueled bible penned in 1922 "For Men by Men." [You can download the PDF here, and I highly recommend it]. Wives will have to swallow both their distaste for silly rhymes and their feminist ire at the opening ditty:

At range and at oven (whisper it) still,
Man is undoubtedly Master;
His cooking is done with an air and a skill,
He's sure as a woman -- and faster!


Well, messier, anyway, right, ladies? But it's hard to stay mad at the sweet lugs (the contributors include Houdini -- deviled eggs; Charlie Chaplin -- steak and kidney pie; Rube Goldberg -- hash; and Douglas Fairbanks -- bread tart) when they've gone to such trouble to write down their homespun recipes for chowders and welsh rabbit and baked beans and -- yes -- cornflakes.

In honor of the good men of Cape Cod, hit the jump for a very simple stag codfish recipe.
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Unloading at Chatham Fish Pier.
Cod Fish
courtesy of Captain Robert A. Bartlett in The Stag Cook Book
"Here is my favorite dish Viz: -- Fresh Labrador cod fish caught during the Caplan school. This fish is at this time in splendid condition.
Here is the recipe:
Place a small bake pot upon a wood fire; then take a few strips of fat pork cut up into small pieces and put into the bake pot. When the pork fat has melted you cut the fish into several small pieces and place in the pot. In about twenty minutes the fish is cooked. The fish must be eaten from the pot with a wooden spoon." [Editor's Note: You may substitute Chatham cod if the Labrador is unavailable]

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