Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World

Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World - Mark Kurlansky Cod--not a favorite food. Mind you, salt-cod (bacalao) was a staple in my Puerto Rican family, but Americanized that I am, for me it was a reason to flee the family apartment until the smell was gone. This book on the fish was... moderately interesting. I didn't feel it was compelling in its narrative--it felt like a long extended textbook inset. You know, you're reading an American history textbook and there's this box that tells you how important cotton was to Georgia or silver to Nevada? Well, it was that sort of thing... only about cod. With lots of recipes thrown in, both before each new chapter and 40 pages of cod cookery in the back. The writer in fact was a chef and a food writer for the New York Times--and notably not a historian. So we got dabs of natural and human history such as suggestions the Basques may have discovered the New World first (and kept quiet so as to have the Grand Banks fisheries all to themselves), learn cod "built Boston" and was crucial to the Atlantic slave trade and the dilemma of contemporary fisherman caused by overfishing: fishing enough to keep earning a living is fishing too much to sustain the wild fish population. At least according to Kurlansky circa 1997--and a search online will quickly let you know it's still an issue today in 2012.