Cod: the Biography of Fish That Changed the World

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COD: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World
Mark Kurlansky
AP World

In the book Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky, the author tries to prove that the discovery of the cod fish changed the world. Gadus morhua, or cod, had turned from a commercial fish eaten by all, to a reason for war and travel. The book starts by following a group of Canadian fishermen who were struggling to sustain their livelihood on overfished seas. What they didn’t know was that they were “at the wrong end of a 1,000-year fishing spree.” As early as the 1600’s, the main source of food was cod. Cod had become a main source of food for long time as it was one of the only fish that could go without rotting. Along with its long lasting appeal, it was also one of the easiest fish to catch, being considered one of the laziest in the water. During a time where knowledge of other sources of food maintenance wasn’t as expanded as it is today, cod fish was essential for anyone near a body of water. Profit was the first outcome from this fish. Many people had begun to learn that salt was something that kept the fish lasting longer, one of the first being the Basques. Basques were located around the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and straddles parts of north-central Spain and south-western France. Since as early as the 1000’s, the Basque people knew how to use both their boats and salt. They knew exactly where to catch the most cod fish and how to preserve. They started to put together, from what they thought, an unlimited supply of the fish because of their new way of storing it and traded it with other groups. Even the trade of salt was successful, due to the fact that other groups valued cod just as much. Basques had transformed flaky cod fillets into a protein-rich nutritious meal. Cod preserved became food for the masses; the salty stuff continued by the Vikings and large populations throughout Europe during the

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