Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Twice-Laid Fish

It is a few weeks since I felt the need to revive a forgotten (to me) food phrase. Today’s contribution is from The Slang Dictionary: or, the Vulgar Words, Street Phrases, and “Fast” Expressions of High and Low Society, published in 1865. It is “Twice-Laid” - a seafaring or maritime expression for “a dish made out of cold fish and potatoes.”

Occasionally when I have been in pursuit of a “lost” food phrase I have been unable to find any other reference beyond the one in the source dictionary (usually of slang or regional dialect), but Lo! and Behold! there are indeed other instances of “twice-laid.” In some contexts it indicates any dish twice-prepared (even ship’s bread – already impossibly hard - re-baked and used to provision a second voyage), but in most cases it does specifically refer to fish. I find that in Newfoundland for example, it particularly refers to a “favourite breakfast and supper dish amongst rich and poor” of cod mashed with potatoes.

Here, from a man who (to judge by his name) should know about these things, is the description of twice-laid fish, and one interpretation of the idea.

Twice Laid Dishes Of Fish.
Although any portions of fish that are left un-consumed are usually considered so worthless as to be thrown away and wasted, they may always be turned to some and very often really profitable account .The smallest portions may assist in making fish soups or enriching gravies and the larger may often be submitted to some process of cookery by which they may be rendered quite as agreeable as when first produced in the way they were originally cooked.

Fish Sausages.
Take any previously dressed fish and after carefully extracting all the bones, mince it up fine, season with cayenne, common pepper and salt and mix up with it a sufficient quantity of raw beaten egg to bind the whole together; make the mixture up into the form of sausages or of small balls. Fry them brown and serve them up with plain melted butter; bread crumbs or cold mashed potatoes may be mixed up with the fish and they may also be coated with breadcrumbs by rubbing a little raw egg about the outside of the balls or sausages, and then strewing the bread crumbs over them. Fish that has been previously stewed, particularly skate, the gravy that is left being mixed up with the fish, are really delicious prepared in this manner

From: A Practical Treatise on the Choice and Cookery of Fish, by Piscator (William Hughes), 1854.

Quotation for the Day.

Fly fishing may be a very pleasant amusement: but angling or float fishing I can only compare to a stick and a string, with a worm at one end and a fool at the other.
Samuel Johnson.

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