Fish on Friday: Feasting, Fasting, and the Discovery of the New World.
FISH ON FRIDAY: Feasting, Fasting, and the Discovery of the New World BRIAN FAGAN
According to historical lore, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492 in search of a shorter, more economical route to spice-rich India and China. Fagan asserts that Columbus' voyage and John Cabot's 5 years later were the inevitable culmination of a long history of exploration by fishing vessels in the North Atlantic. The early-European diet depended on fishing because the widely observed Christian doctrine dictated that no meat be consumed on any holy day, Wednesday, or Friday or at any time during Lent. Religion was so entwined with the fishing industry that clergymen helped develop many techniques for catching, farming, and preserving this precious commodity. With the advent of the Little Ice Age in the 13th century, fishing became increasingly difficult in the treacherous waters off Norway and Iceland, requiring that vessels forge farther from Europe. Fagan, an anthropologist, asserts that these sailors were the first Europeans to spot land in Newfoundland and other parts of North America. Combining history, social commentary, scientific hypothesis, and fishing and sailing lore, as well as recipes for fish dishes in the ancient style, Fagan presents a refreshing and intriguing look at the discovery of America. Basic, 2006, 368 p., hardcover, $25.00.