Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Cod Cakes and King Cakes.

The traditional fare today, which is ‘Twelfth Day’, or the Feast of the Epiphany (according to the Christian church calendar) – is one or other variation of a Twelfth Cake. The author of Books and My Food, our source for the week, chose a rather different ‘cake’ for her entry on January 6th.

“Said he, ‘Upon this dainty cod
How bravely I shall sup.”
HOOD (“Poems”)

Croquettes of salt codfish are a pleasant variation of the familiar codfish cake. Make a thick cream sauce. Stir into it a pound of salt codfish shredded with the fingers after it has soaked two hours in warm water. Add a dash of red pepper.Do not cook the fish and the sauce, but allow the mixture to get cold and firm. Then shape into croquettes, dip each in beaten eggs, then in fine cracker-crumbs, and fry in very hot fat.

I have long been confused as to the difference between a croquette and a kromesky. Much as I love it, I am not totally convinced of the authority of The Oxford English Dictionary as a culinary reference tool, but here is what it says about the two.

Croquette: The word comes from the French croquer, ‘to crackle under the teeth, to crunch.’ The first reference cited is from 1706, ‘In Cookery, Croquets are a certain Compound made of delicious Stuff’d Meat, some of the bigness of an Egg, and others of a Walnut.’

Kromesky: is derived from the Polish kroméczka, meaning ‘a little slice.’ The OED defines it as ‘A croquette made of meat or fish minced, rolled in bacon or calf’s udder, and fried’, and gives as its first source the one-time chef for Queen Victoria, Charles Elmé Francatelli’s Modern Cook (1846).

I always thought that the essential difference was that kromeskies were dipped in batter before being fried, but it appears that this is not essential to the definition. What do you think?

A random thought on battered things: does ‘Mars Bar Kromesky’ sound more tempting than ‘Deep Fried Battered Mars Bar’?

Quotation for the Day.

Oh, who can hold a fire in his hand,
By thinking on the frosty Caucasus?
Or cloy the hungry edge of appetite,
By bare imagination of a feast?
Shakespeare, King Richard II, Act I, Sc. 3

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