Nelly Writes — Poems

BACCALA, STOCK FISH

Definitely an acquired taste
is necessary
to appreciate
the earthiness
of this sea creature
- nothing but mere cod -
preserved in barrels full of Atlantic salt
or dried stiff in the cold northern wind.

Baccala, stock fish
an epithet
people less than flexible
in their views, personality, or posture
earn from unsympathetic people.
Yet, unused taste buds need to make
quite an athletic leap
into the unknown
bending over backwards
to reach its depth of flavor
bordering between decay and sublime
like anything worth our love and interest.

Baccala, stock fish
whole empires were built on it.
Maybe we owe it to its proteins
if the Vikings had the energy and skill
to come this way of the Atlantic Ocean
a thousand years before Columbus did.

For us it√Ęs just a treat
a curiosity, a gastronomic leap of faith.
Maybe, if I do it right,
soak it the right amount of time
- changing the water often -
add those Greek olives and capers,
good olive oil and parsley,
some fresh tomato
- a soft polenta on the side is optional -
I might acquire that sophisticated taste
and appreciate its flakiness.

This is what I promise you
in handing out this recipe.
Try it once at least.
You will feel strong and nourished,
ready for great adventures.
The world will stretch its limits,
its possibilities will look endless,
the way they must have seemed
to the people who feasted
on this peculiar dish
since the beginning of history.

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"I come from a country where food is a central part of life. My passion and mission is to share my love of food and cooking with my students. Also to give them the inspiration and tools to create memorable meals and live meaningful experiences in the kitchen." - Nelly Capra