During the summer, give me a lobster roll from any of the local places serving them up. There’s an incredible Haddock stew at Gilbert’s on Commercial Street in Portland. I’ve probably never met a finnan haddie I hadn’t liked, and the sweet Gulf of Maine shrimp are far better than the southern cousins. In short, despite a medically determined avoidance of bivalves, I am a big fan of coastal cuisine.

My in-laws were known for serving bland cuisine. Spicing something up meant adding salt and a small amount of pepper. I came from a home where Spanish, Hungarian and German foods were on the menu daily. Rice, a staple in my family, was a rare item in their home. When served, it was soggy and overcooked—being over-enthused once I tried to introduce them to Spanish rice only to have the entire family leave the table. I’m not that bad a cook.

 Despite blandness, Cora was a good cook. Her cod cakes, lobster stew, boiled lobster, lobster roll and chowder ranked among the best. But, there is one exception. There it is again that all-important word “but.”

The Cap’n loved nothing so much as a couple of lobsters for Sunday dinner. Tamale, rolls, salad, and choice of dressing ( thousand Islands or french). This menu was as unchangeable as the date of the fourth of July. With one exception. If the Cap’n was feeling “peckish.” If his digestion were off, he’d ask for boiled cod and potato. I guess it was comfort food from when he was a child. But even Cora and my wife had trouble smacking their lips together over boiled cod and potato. To make this, you boiled the fresh filet of cod with potatoes until it was hard to tell where the mush from the cod ended, and the overcooked potato began. The first time this was served to me, I asked what sort of seasoning was available. Leftover bacon fat from Sunday Breakfast got drizzled over the plate; if you felt it needed it. Ummm, Ummm! I salted and peppered heavily to get it down.

I learned that I could peddle my bicycle over to the Island Store with a little warning and get a good sub sandwich if I got there before eleven. Then I’d insist that I had vital work to do on Psyche – rain was coming, and I wanted to finish that varnishing. The Cap’n would never object to me working on his boat.

I miss many things about living in coastal Maine, but ( there it is again) not boiled cod and potato with bacon grease.

 Bon Apetit!

2 Replies to “Peckish”

  1. Oh my gosh! The bacon grease?! Yikes. I can’t even imagine.

    One of the things I love about Hawaii is all of the fresh fish. When there, I try to get in my fill as my husband doesn’t like it or the smell at all.

    What kind of sub did you get?

    1. Part of the reason that meal sticks in memory was that it was soooo uniformly bad in terms of what could be done by a good cook with fresh seafood.
      The subs were interesting. Technically Italian, but typically Mainer with pickles.

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