Thursday, September 29, 2016

Cod Almighty

Recently, a leak in the Colonial gas pipeline messed up gasoline supplies all over the South, and that took many of us back to the good old days of 1974 and 1979, when America's wonderful oil companies took the opportunity to withhold supplies and drive up prices.  I remember people howling when gas went to 45 cents a gallon.  

But gas is gas, and shortages come and go. This one, however, might be serious.

The good folks at The Atlantic magazine detail here a looming shortage of codfish. This, of course, could lead to shortages of fish and chips in restaurants patronized by me, and that makes this crisis personal.

Here in Baltimore, we also use cod for making a little treat called a coddie, which is basically a potato cake with a little shredded cod tossed in.  But there can't be much cod in a coddie, because they can sit out in a tray on a delicatessen counter for days on end.

Now, if you want a large helping of cod, you order yourself a platter of fish and chips, and you get a serving of battered-and-fried cod that's about the size of second base, along with 1/2 the daily output of a nice-size Idaho potato farm, julienned and fried in the same oil.  Add some tartar sauce, catsup (recognized as a vegetable during the Reagan era) for the fries and a tub o' slaw, and you're in tall cotton, my friend.

But cod are becoming more scarce in the waters off New England. The Gorton's Fisherman figures that overfishing and warming ocean temperatures are the reasons.  

So the United States, which recently had some success brokering a trial truce in Syria, also sent their top diplomatic brains to Canada to figure out how to divvy up the tasty treat between the two nations. 

England serves their fish and chips on newspapers, or
at least, they used to, until someone came up
with a fake newspaper to use instead.
730 million metric tons (not including the batter, or the fries) will be fished out of the water next year, and 146 of those metric tons will wind up on American plates (and beneath American belts.)

Canada will take home all the rest, to be served with Canadian bacon.  American fishers will still have the Gulf of Maine to toss their nets, as well. 

And the backup plan is that if that's still not enough cod for us, Norway and Iceland have plenty of cod to ship over here, and if we buy it from Iceland, they will throw in a boatload of Bj√∂rk CDs.

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