Saturday, July 25, 2015

Joyce's cod cheeks

Bonavista Peninsula, NL – A dull but much calmer day greeted us this mor-ning. For our last day on the penin-sula, we decided to have a look at a couple of movie sets. Trinity East was the location for a film with Gordon Pinsent called The Shipping News. It’s some time since we saw it, so the sleepy town on the cove wasn’t familiar, but it was picturesque just the same.

Salt box houses clustered by the shore and grassy yards were casually dressed in daisies, buttercups and purple lupines, against a backdrop of dark green hills sloping down to the water. Like nearly every town we’ve seen, it had a small white church and a graveyard with weathered, tilting headstones. There was even a clothesline filled with bright-coloured laundry drying in the breeze, and fishing boats bobbing next to the dock.
The second film set was where the mini-series Random Passage was filmed, an 18-km drive in from Highway 230, along winding roads with plenty of curves, potholes and blind hills. After covering some distance, we began to wonder if we’d missed a sign (we’ve learned that signage is not a strong Newfoundland trait), so we turned down a road where there were some houses.

I noticed a group of people on a wharf who seemed to be cleaning a fresh catch of fish, so we stopped and went over to see – and get directions at the same time. “We’re from Ontario and we’ve never seen a cod right out of the water,” I said. They were more than pleased to show us – and they had caught some big ones!
Glen and Jerry were busily filleting the fish on a table next to the water, while other family members watched. Once they dropped the fillets into a bucket, they tossed the heads and guts into the water where a strong current washed them back out to sea and the waiting otters and eagles that were awaiting a free lunch.

On the table were some triangle-shaped bits they told us were cod tongues. We’d sampled some at the Viking dinner theatre in St Anthony. I asked about cod cheeks, just as Joyce arrived – she confessed to us that she never liked fish even though she grew up here, but the one thing she would eat was the cheeks. She stepped up to the table and went to work on the cod’s severed head, jamming her fingers into its eyes to hold it still and slicing away the flesh on both sides in the hollows just below them.
Before we left, Gerry pulled several fillets out of the bucket and put them in a plastic bag for us to take with us. We were delighted to be able to bring them back to the RV for a fresh feed – and Joyce told us just how to do it: dredged in flour with just a bit of salt and pepper, and fried in oil – “but not for too long!”

With our lovely gift and clear travel directions, we headed on to the movie set. After enjoying lunch in the tea room where the tickets were sold, we went on to the site. Although it was built in 2000, the cluster of log houses looked weathered and old, and only a grassy footpath led from one house to another. We bought a DVD of the mini-series, since we haven’t seen it, so now we’ll recognize the setting of this tale of Irish immigrants coming to a new found land.
Our next destination was back in Trinity, where the Rising Tide Theatre group was putting on a pageant about the town’s and Newfoundland’s history. It’s a unique presentation that brings the audience on foot from one venue in the town to another, telling tales of the fishery, the church, the court and everyday activities with a cast of quick-change actors who are pirates, washerwomen, choristers and historic characters. There was lots of humor and pathos, and it was fun to recognize the actors we’d seen at the play a couple of nights before.
Back at the RV, Val donned his apron and tackled our beautiful mess of fresh cod, dishing up a delicious smelling feast, as fresh as it possibly could be. Thank you, Glen and Jerry!

1 comment:

Len said...

Now I's some glad that yous mainlanders have finally learnt something about filleting fish. Loblaws will never be the same.