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Cape Cod The Cape’s First Industry

When John Cabot touched our New England shores, he was astounded at the vast numbers of fish in the water. There were so many that bears waded out, and easily caught and ate them. These fish were food of a most welcome kind for the newcoming Cape Cod folk. They were easy to catch, easy to cook, good to the taste. From the numerous codfish, the Cape derived its name.

As time went on, Cape Codders, like other New Englanders, turned to the catching and selling of fish. They went not only into the waters of broad Massachusetts Bay, but in great fleets farther out and to the northeast. There on the Banks they made their hauls, and salted down their catches, and raced home with them.

“Salt cod” was a familiar product of the Cape’s first industry for many years. You saw it in grocery stores. It came in large pieces, nearly half a cod large. It was sold by the pound from large wooden boxes. Creamed salt cod and boiled potatoes was — and is — a tasty, hearty meal. Nowadays, however, the salt cod come in little packages, or even flaked in cans or cartons. The old-time salt cod had to be soaked in cold water for hours to get the salt out of it. Even then, you might get a big thirst after a meal of it. The new form of salt cod is ready for use.

The alewife is the Cape’s next most famous fish. Alewives are commonly called herring. These fish deserve a whole book, their habits and the catching of them are so interesting. They are smelly, smoked and salted — and good eating. In the spring they used to be eaten fresh. Pickled herring is also a favorite.

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Cape Cod
Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 02/27/06
Categories: FishingFoodHistory
Keywords: fishing, history, food


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