The Gloucester Fisherman
Today's recipe booklet is a bit of a fluke, mainly because I found it at a thrift store in the nearby suburbs. This is only the second or third time I have ever found a recipe booklet with a publication date as early as this one in a thrift store here in the nation's fourth largest city.
Although it's really not that old at all, Old Gloucester Sea Food Recipes (1936, 32 pages) is way older than those I usually come across by chance here in Texas (outside of an antique sales venue, anyway). I was quite surprised to see it there, mixed in with the meager selection of other used cookbookbooks that hadn't changed much since the last time I'd visited.
The artwork on the cover sets it apart immediately from the glossy photographic covers of fairly recent supermarket checkout booklets which are the kind I usually find. Sadly, I can find no artist's name in which to attribute the delightful illustrations found on the covers and throughout the booklet.
The Gloucester Fisherman was otherwise known as Frank E. Davis of the Frank E. Davis Fish Company which was located in Gloucester, Massachusetts. His company, established in 1885, specialized in mail order fish, supplying canned and salted fish products to people all over the country.
On a page in the rear of the booklet is a color illustration of some of their canned products: shrimp, mackerel, codfish, crabmeat, salmon, sardines, lobster, Finnan Haddie, herring, fish flakes, tunny and clam chowder, as well as a package of codfish steaks.
This illustration was for a "Get Acquainted Assortment" and was not all-inclusive of their available products. The recipes call for other items not pictured, such as clam juice, clam soup, clam bouillon, clam cakes, codfish fluff, fresh codfish, fresh mackerel, codfish, haddock and mackerel roe, caviar, anchovy paste, oysters, sea moss, fresh halibut, fish chowder, Norwegian fish balls, and fish flakes.
The booklet also shows renderings of their place of business, first a small fish shack, as shown in the Introduction below, and then later, a large, modern concrete stucture.
This being the 1930s, the booklet also mentions the use of "sanitary methods" in the new building, a marketing point that advertisers used extensively back then when people were more cautious of processed food.
Cameos of Frank E. Davis and his son Arthur C. Davis are also shown.
There are quite a few recipes inside, occasionally illustrated in color. There's an alphabetical recipe index on the last page, as well as recipe suggestions divided into breakfast, lunch, dinner and those suitable for luncheons, suppers and parties.
I thought the following were a couple of the more unusual recipes:
2/3 cup Davis Sea Moss
3 cups Cold Water
1/2 cup Sugar
4 tbsp. Cocoa
Wash Sea Moss well, measuring after washing, pressing down firmly in cup. Put in pan with cold water and boil fast for five minutes or until the Sea Moss is partly dissolved and liquid quite thick--strain through cheesecloth. Mix suar, cocoa and hot water, add strained sea moss, put over fire and boil for a second or so, so it will mix well. Pour into moulds which have been wet in cold water, set in a cool place for one-half hour. Will keep a number of days without getting tough.
FOR COUGHS AND COLDS
Davis Sea Moss
Place a little Sea Moss in cold water and set on back of stove until somewhat glutinous or syrupy and strain, adding a little sugar and lemon juice. A spoonful or more, occasionally, will be found very soothing to the throat.
What are Fish Flakes? Is that similar or the same as tunafish? Maybe it was the fish equivalent of tater tots. This recipe sounds like Creamed Tuna to me:
FISH FLAKES CREAMED
1 can Davis Fish Flakes
1 pt. Milk
1 tbsp Flour
Add a pint or more of milk to the Fish Flakes, according to the size can used. When it boils slowly, add butter, a little pepper, and thickening of one heaping tablespoonful of flour in enough cold water to make a cream. Stir well, and cook about five minutes longer.
The recipe for Devilled Crabs on this page was used at least once or twice as is apparent by the stains and the notations in fountain pen ink and pencil:
This old Davis Fish Company ad from 1901, as do many of their other advertisements, speaks of a free Recipe Book that's included with each order. Perhaps this booklet is one that came with someone's order. Someone from landlocked Kansas, who might have been deliriously happy to acquire ocean fish and seafood in any shape or form.
The rear cover of the booklet has a wonderful map showing locations of the company plant in Gloucester and their fisheries in Nova Scotia.