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OP: North Atlantic Seafood

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by Alan Davidson

The Viking Press, 1980. Hardcover. Fine in Very Good jacket. Signed.

Alan Davidson (1924–2003), who is most remembered as a leading figure in the field of food history, also had an abiding interest in the world of fish and seafood. His first book, Mediterranean Seafood, appeared in 1972. Subsequent volumes were increasingly ambitious, often focusing on the seafood of Southeast Asia where Davidson worked as a diplomat for many years.

This 1979 addition to Davidson’s lifelong ichthyological scholarship covers the North Atlantic, a massive stretch of shared waters from New England and Canada to the (then) Soviet Union, Scandinavia, and Iberian peninsula.

The first half catalogs the fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and seaweeds swimming in these waters. Accompanied by attractive black and white illustrations, the profiles include remarks on the biology and classification of the fish, as well as culinary uses and a historical or anecdotal note or two. The latter half of the book includes recipes, organized by country or region of origin.

From the Soviet Union you might try a white fish shchi—a soup typically made with cabbage but made here with sorrel and spinach puree instead. Portugal offers bacalhau dorado—scrambled eggs with flaked salt cod and fried julienne potatoes, topped with black olives and parsley. Or fiskegrateng from Norway, a souffle-like dish incorporating poached cod or haddock, gouda, and macaroni.

Davidson is witty and chatty, an enjoyable and unrivaled authority on the fish and seafood of the world.

Our copy is the first US printing, signed by Alan Davidson on the front free endpaper. Fine in a Very Good, unclipped jacket. A lovely example for collectors.

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