Dating back to ~1000 AD when cod was discovered by the Vikings, here starts the story of Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World. Mark Kurlansky’s third work of nonfiction, and winner of the 1999 James Beard Award, is the biography of a single species of fish, but it may as well be a world history with this humble fish as its recurring main character.
Cod, it turns out, is the reason the Vikings could set out for icy Greenland and on the five expeditions to America recorded in the Icelandic sagas. What was the staple of the medieval diet? Cod again, sold salted by the Basques, an enigmatic people with a mysterious, unlimited supply of cod. Europeans set sail across the Atlantic and cod, frozen and dried in the frosty air then broken into pieces and eaten like hardtack is the only reason they could.
As we make our way through the centuries of cod history, we also find a delicious legacy of recipes, and the tragic story of environmental failure, of depleted fishing stocks where once their numbers were legendary. This book is a warning to humanity not to take what the earth offers up for granted. Paperback and 294 pages.
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