Strung Out SOLD
12" x 24" oil
Quite awhile ago I started this piece and it sat idle for a couple of months while others took the limelight. In between paintings, I thought I'd add more paint to it and see how its resurrection works. Close. Very close to completion.
These are salted cod drying on a clothes line in what was a neighbour's yard when I lived in Pouch Cove. Its an occasional scene one comes across that shows the bones of Newfoundland's heritage and how the salted dried cod, bacalhau to the Portugese, was currency and life in this province for hundreds of years.
Salt cod is an icon in the province and a common source of art in many forms. I've used it in my gyotaku pieces and workshops as it rehydrates beautifully and with the skin and fins intact, very interesting prints can be made.
Dried, it mellows to a creamy ochre colour with a variety of colours appearing in the flesh from pinks and purples to greens and blues. Eating it, its a salt lover's dream. Even with a day's worth of soaking and changing water, its still very salty and while I adore salt, its a bit much even for me at times. Its a taste that probably needs to be acquired and is often served in a traditional fish and brewis, which is a "hash" of salt cod, rehydrated hard tack or ship's biscuits, potatoes and topped with a butter and onion translucent sauce (drawn butter), then topped with more heart stopping diced salty fat back pork that has been fried til crispy and known locally as "scruncions". Like I said, its an acquired taste.
The dish goes back hundreds of years and points to the way of life at the time. Lack of refrigeration, limited fresh supplies and salted or dried food being a main source of preservation with dried ship's biscuits rounding out the meal to fill hungry bellies. This food likely wasn't great nutritionally, but it was cheap and filling for families who depended on fishermen's incomes for subsistence. For those brave enough to try it and who can access the ingredients, here is a recipe.