A Fishy Tale for the Fourth

Now is the time for Salmon.

Salmo salar - Atlantic Salmon

Salmo salar – Atlantic Salmon

Tradition has Abigail Adams making a lovely meal of poached salmon, new pease and potatoes for her darling John back in 1776.

On July 4th.

The Adams, Abigail and John

The Adams, Abigail and John

Or maybe not.

They weren’t in the same city that day….darn those letter writing people of the past so we know where they were on particular days!

Or maybe this whole tradition is a New Nostalgia thing.

At the World’s Fair in 1964 in New York City they were serving  authentic oldie timey food and this meal was one of them. …

but I think it goes back a little further then that, because my Nana made or craved this very same same meal a lot earlier in the 20th century then 1964.

To help make my case:

However, I happen to own a copy of the American Heritage Cookbook published in 1964 and I don’t see a reference to Abigail Adams at all. In my edition it simply says: “From the earliest days it has been a tradition all through New England to serve Poached Salmon with Egg Sauce, along with the first new potatoes and early peas, on the Fourth of July. The eastern salmon began to ‘run’ about this time, and the new vegetables were just coming in.”

– Kendra Nordin, Kitchen Report July 2, 2013 Christian Science Monitor

green peaeAnd this – poached salmon with Egg sauce, new potatoes and early peas – are exactly the meal I helped my Nana cook on a Fourth when she had moved down near us. Or maybe it was when she was in Senior Housing in Mattapan….it was a teeny tiny very modern gallery kitchen with hardly enough room to swing a cat in, which was definitely NOT like any house she had lived in before. Now this Mid-Century kitchen layout is called

vintage

but it’s like Starksy & Hutch vintage, and not vintage vintageTVGuide June 1978So I went over and we poached a piece of salmon, not a whole fish, and made egg sauce (she had this down, but I believe Fannie Farmer was her source) and quickly cooked the peas and potatoes….we might have been drinking TAB…

tab

Was it the saccharin or the cyclamates that forced this off the market?

But poaching a salmon is a feed a crowd type of meal, and if you’re not feeding a crowd,you’ll want something smaller  and kinder to your purse AND since so much Atlantic salmon is now farmed, so is a source of moral and culinary concern, I started using  canned Pacific salmon and  went to a complete and total  B-plan several years ago.

My inspiration was :

I admit - I bought the book for the title.

I admit – I bought the book for the title.

One of the salads in Lettuce In Your Kitchen is with salmon and new potatoes…I added a few fresh peas and topped it with a hard boiled egg and Green Goddess dressing…

And thus a new tradition is born, based on layers of old ones.

So I eat the traditional foods, in a newer way. And think about  Nana and Abigail Adams and Fannie Farmer and wouldn’t it be one terrific table if they were all around it, eating Poached Salmon, Early Peas and New Potatoes.

Egg Sauce I

To Drawn Butter Sauce add two “hard-boiled” eggs cut in one-fourth inch slices.

p. 14

Drawn Butter Sauce

1/3 cup butter 11/2 cups hot water
3 tablespoons flour 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Melt one-half the butter, add flour with seasonings, and pour on gradually hot water. Boil five minutes, and add remaining butter in small pieces. To be served with boiled or baked fish.

p.11

Farmer, Fannie Merritt. The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book. Boston: Little, Brown, 1918; Bartleby.com, 2000.

Fannie Merritt Farmer

Fannie Merritt Farmer

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3 Comments

Filed under Fish, Holiday, Influencers, Recipe, Summer

3 responses to “A Fishy Tale for the Fourth

  1. Sounds delicious. I’ll have to use farmed Scottish salmon and we have beans in the garden but not peas. Thirty years from now I wonder if my kids will be telling their kids “I’m not bothered what the internet says about Abigail Adams, your grandfather always used to cook it like this…”

  2. Beautiful post!

    Emory
    helloscarlettblog.com

  3. Reblogged this on Foodways Pilgrim and commented:

    As I was thinking of salmon and peases and Nana and Abigail (who has a musical about here and John)….

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