I recently finished In the Heart of the Sea- The Tragedy of the Whale Ship Essex. I passed over this book at least 50 times at my public library, probably because I associated it with Moby Dick, which I found a bit boring in high school. (Didn’t we all?) In the Heart of the Sea tells the story of the whaler Essex that was rammed by a sperm whale and subsequently sunk. This is the event that sparked Melville’s idea for Moby Dick. To me the real event was much more exciting than the novel! I’m not bashing classic literature; I’m just saying that In the Heart of the Sea was an excellent, entertaining read. Maybe our high schoolers should read it too!
I read any survival story I can get my hands on- shipwrecks, plane crashes, lost at sea, stranded on a desert island- I love it all! In the Heart of the Sea did not disappoint. The story of a few men in leaky whaleboats adrift in the Pacific with virtually no supplies (eventually resorting to cannibalism) is one of the greatest survival stories of all time. In addition to that, the book is a primer on the whaling industry, something I’ve avoided reading about in the past because I’m an animal lover and I hate to think about the slaughter of such magnificent creatures. In this book, the whale takes his revenge.
Reading about cold New England days put me in the mood for some chowder. I had leftover Spanish mackerel from when I went commercial fishing with my dad and made ceviche, so I decided to throw together a fish chowder. This is a simple, hearty recipe with only 5 ingredients. There are no amounts because I used what I had on hand and eyeballed it to get the proportions right.
You will need:
- Fresh, wild caught fish (I used Spanish mackerel)
- Potatoes (I leave the skins on because I like them and I’m lazy)
- Old Bay seasoning
- Heavy cream
First, you will chop your potatoes and onions and put them in a pot to simmer on medium heat until soft. I put in enough water to cover the potatoes. You don’t want too much water because you’re adding cream in later.
While the potatoes are cooking and getting soft, you’ll cut your fish into bite size chunks. My fish had the skin on, so I removed it and then cut it into pieces. This doesn’t have to be perfect. Even if you have little pieces of fish that break off, throw them in the pot. You don’t want to waste it!
Once the potatoes and onions have cooked down, add in the fish. Fish cooks very quickly, in just 2 to 3 minutes. You’ll know it’s cooked when it turns white.
Season to taste with Old Bay. I use it generously!
Finally, pour in enough heavy cream to cover the fish and potatoes and let it simmer long enough to heat up the cream.
Serve with crusty, buttered bread if you’re not terrified of carbs! Then curl up with a good book about the sea and enjoy!