Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World
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Not only is Cod the biography of a world-changing fish, it is a work which changed the popular idea of what food history could be, inspiring many other single-subject explorations of the cultural and historical importance of a single food.
Although the book appears compact in its paperback edition it is nearly 300 pages long. Author Mark Kurlansky, who has gone on to write on subjects as varied as milk and onions, has an appealing ability to connect cultural trends to wider historical forces.
Kurlansky shapes his story around the Basque fisherfolk who, beginning in the Middle Ages, developed the technique of drying and salting cod, and began pushing further and further into the North Atlantic in their search for ever-more abundant fisheries. Their supply of cod was a crucial element of European food supplies, particularly for countries following the Catholic faith, which abstained from meat on Fridays and many holidays and turned to dried fish as an alternative.
Indeed, it was the search for cod which led Europeans further and further into the Atlantic, and which allowed them to conduct the explorations which would span the globe.
Paperback. Maps and drawings.