Saturday, November 5, 2022

Smoked Herring (with Beret)

Herring are forage fish, mostly belonging to the family of Clupeidae. Herring often move in large schools around fishing banks and near the coast, found particularly in shallow, temperate waters of the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans, including the Baltic Sea, as well as off the west coast of South America.

Herring played a pivotal role in the history of marine fisheries in Europe. These oily fish have a long history as an important food fish, and are often salted, smoked, or pickled.

Herring are also known as "silver darlings". A kipper is a whole herring, that has been split in a butterfly fashion from tail to head along the dorsal ridge, gutted, salted or pickled, and cold-smoked over smouldering wood chips (typically oak).

In the United Kingdom, Ireland and some regions of North America, kippers are most commonly consumed for breakfast. In the United Kingdom, kippers, along with other preserved smoked or salted fish such as the bloater and buckling, were also once commonly enjoyed as a high tea or supper treat, most popularly with inland and urban working-class populations before World War II.

Although the exact origin of the kipper is unknown, this process of slitting, gutting, and smoke-curing fish is well documented. According to Mark Kurlansky, "Smoked foods almost always carry with them legends about their having been created by accident—usually the peasant hung the food too close to the fire, and then, imagine his surprise the next morning when…".

For instance Thomas Nashe wrote in 1599 about a fisherman from Lothingland in the Great Yarmouth area who discovered smoking herring by accident. Another story of the accidental invention of kipper is set in 1843, with John Woodger of Seahouses in Northumberland, when fish for processing was left overnight in a room with a smoking stove. These stories and others are known to be untrue because the word "kipper" long predates this.

Smoking and salting of fish—in particular of spawning salmon and herring—which are caught in large numbers in a short time and can be made suitable for edible storage by this practice predates 19th-century Britain and indeed written history, probably going back as long as humans have been using salt to preserve food.

The herring has played a highly significant role in history both socially and economically. During the Middle Ages, herring prompted the founding of Great Yarmouth, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen. In 1274, while on his deathbed at the monastery of Fossanova (south of Rome, Italy), when encouraged to eat something to regain his strength, Thomas Aquinas asked for fresh herring.

Thanks, Frans

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