Now is the time for 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.
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.”
And 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
but it’s like Starksy & Hutch vintage, and not vintage vintageSo 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…
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 :
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.
To Drawn Butter Sauce add two “hard-boiled” eggs cut in one-fourth inch slices.
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.
Farmer, Fannie Merritt. The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book. Boston: Little, Brown, 1918; Bartleby.com, 2000.