As many of you are aware, I am currently in the UK having some general fun before the fun of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery begins in a little over a week. I have been spending a few days inWhitby on the Yorkshire coast. It is a small town famous for being the setting for Bram Stoker's Dracula, and as the place where Capain James Cook learned his seafaring skills.
The town is inextricably linked with the sea. It was once the centre of a massive ship-building centre (Cook's famous ship the Endeavour was built here,) but first and foremost, Whitby is about fishing. I have thoroughly tested its fish and chips since I have been here, and can personally vouch for their general excellence.
The main fish-and-chip shop fish are cod and haddock, but a lesser known product of the area is kippers (smoked herring.). There is an interesting notice on the wall adjacent to the stove in the self-catering apartment where I am staying in Whitby, the like of which I have never seen before. It reads:
Kippers leave an odour which cannot be readily removed. Therefore cooking and consuming kippers on the premises is not allowed.
Should you smoke or consume kippers, this will result in a £100 room recovery charge in order for us to restore the accommodation back to a satisfactory condition.
Not a notice likely to encourage kipper newbies to try them out, is it?
There is another interesting thing about kippers in this region. The local cafes serve them with a side of strawberry jam. There are references to this combination elsewhere, and sometimes to the brushing of the kippers with jam before grilling, but I have not been able to find out anything else about the tradition, or how widespread it is, in the short time I have been here and with the reduced resources I have available while I am travelling. I am most intrigued by this concept, so if you know of it, and can add anything, please do!
For those of you who prefer to keep your kippers firmly in the savoury camp, the following recipes are for especially for you.
Filleted Devilled Kipper on Toast.
Fillet the kipper in the usual way. Butter some toast. Place fillet on top and cut into any shape you may fancy. Put a little grated cheese, cayenne pepper or black pepper, a pinch of breadcrumbs, and a little butter. Put in paper bag and place on grid.
Allow five minutes in a very hot oven (350 deg.Fahr.)
Soyer's Standard Cookery (1912) by Nicolas Soyer
2 oz. cheeese pastry
4 oz. kipper
1 teaspoon parmesan cheese
Roll pastry into a strip. Brush half with egg. Cover with sliced kipper and cayenne. Sandwich with remaining half of pastry. Brush with egg and sprinkle thuckly with grated cheese. Cut in finger strips and bake for about 15-20 minutes at 420 deg F till brown and crisp. Serve hot or cold.
Lady Young's Cookery Book (Hong Kong, early 1900's)
Quotation for the Day.
Your raiment, O herring, displays the rainbow colors of the setting sun, the patina on old copper, the golden-brown of Cordoba leather, the autumnal tints of sandalwood and saffron. Your head, O herring, flames like a golden helmet, and your eyes, are like black studs in circlets of copper.
- Joris Karl Huysmans (1848-1907