Judy Ink - the food blog of Judy Schultz
Eight Great Books about Fish & Seafood
Tuesday, 30 November 2010 17:00

   One of my great sorrows in life is that I'm allergic to oysters.

   How such an exquisitely lovely creature as an oyster can make me so horribly sick seems faintly ridiculous, but I can't argue with reality.

   I have several cookbooks that are dedicated strictly to fish, but in this case it's the prose writers who are the most compelling. 
There may be fewer books about fish and seafood than about, for instance, vegetables. All the more reason to look for those that help us understand the mysteries of that rapidly-depleting part of our food chain. 

   Here are six I can recommend.


1. Stalking the Blue-Eyed Scallop, by Euell Gibbons. A charming book. Gibbons is a character, as well as a noted conservationist. Even if you aren't likely to seek out the blue-eyed scallop for your table, this book should be in your collection, especially if you're an environmentalist.

2. The Oysters of Locmariaquer, by Eleanor Clark. Beautifully written prose about a place, the people, the oysters of northern France, their habits and their habitat. A joy to read, even in small doses if that's all you have time for.

3. Consider the Fish: Fishing for Canada from Campbell River to Petty Harbour, by Chris Gudgeon. Love this book! Gudgeon is a whimsical kinda guy who laces his fishy prose with facts. A good read. Should have a wider audience and better distribution.

4. The Secret Life of Lobsters, by Trevor Corson. Think of fresh-caught lobsters, melted butter, and the lobster who gives his all for your dinner. A great yarn about the king of crustaceans. Corson also wrote The Zen of Fish, which I also cherish.

5. Tuna, a Love Story, by Richard Ellis. Read this and you'll never again take tuna casserole for granted. Tuna, the most taken-for-granted of fish, is a declining resource, and Ellis makes his case for conservation with eloquence.

6. Consider the Oyster, by MFK Fisher. Twelve chapters of MFK Fisher at her best, written in 1941, yet still holding up well because of, or in spite of (depending on where you stand) that unmistakable Fisher style. I hope never to eat another oyster — it's not worth dying over — but I wouldn't want to be without this book. 

7. The Frugal Fish, by Robert Ackart, has gone through several printings. That's because it's a good, practical cookbook. Working with seafood and fish can be tricky, especially for us landlubbers, so I found his level of detail extremely helpful. By the way, the book was first printed in 1983, so go on Amazon.

8. Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook, by Braiden Rex-Johnson. The Seattle public market has a long tradition of selling fish, and this book tells me everything I need to know (and more) about the fish business at the market, which is charming and entertaining, plus I get a walking tour of the fish market and its kitchens. Recipes are sourced from various Seattle and area restaurants as well as the fish market eateries. Two of my favorite chapters are salmon and oysters; very informative. She knows her fish, does our Braiden. Yup, Braiden is a girl. 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 July 2011 02:11