November 27, 2010

Halifax Again: Gravlax to Music

During the Halifax Sea Music Festival we had lunch at Stayner’s Wharf, entertained fabulously by the talented, funny, and perfectly named (they will tell you so) Dory Bungholes. In the group are Jon Stone, Jay Perry, Margo Carruthers and Vince Morash. Many people will ask…they’re called what?? Well, Jon explained it clearly: the bunghole is a round hole in the bottom of a small boat such as a dory, at the stern end. It’s used to drain water when the boat is out of the water. In the water, it’s stopped up with the bung, so the boat doesn’t sink! Better to be a bung than a hole, said Jon.

Once that that was perfectly clear, we had lunch.
Chuck ordered chowder, the best so far, he says!
When I ordered something I’d never eaten, gravlax, the waiter said, are you sure??? Yes, why do you ask? Well, the salmon’s not cooked; it’s preserved, sort of like sushi. OK, I said, I like sushi…though he still looked doubtful.

He placed it before me, then stopped by again when I’d about demolished it to ask how it was. When I said that it was VERY good, he seemed relieved!
The generous amount of thinly sliced fish was placed on slightly toasted white bread and served with a sweet, almost mustard sauce. I looked it up later, to see what I’d swallowed so eagerly.

“Gravlax or gravad lax (Swedish), gravad laks (Danish), gravlaks (Norwegian, Danish), graavilohi (Finnish) – that’s me…if you’re of one of these heritages, you’ll want to try it! - graavilõhe (Estonian), or graflax (Icelandic) is a  Nordic dish consisting of raw salmon cured  in salt, sugar and dill. It’s usually served as an appetizer, sliced thinly and accompanied by a dill and mustard sauce, either on bread or with boiled potatoes.”
“During the Middle Ages, gravlax was made by fishermen who salted the salmon and lightly fermented it by burying it in the sand above the high-tide line. (Now who would’ve thought to do that? Looking about, whistling: Fishing? Who, me? Oh, no – How about let’s go for a drink!) The word gravlax comes from the Scandinavian word grav, which means literally "grave" or "hole in the ground" and lax (or laks), which means "salmon", thus gravlax is "buried salmon".”

Clary Croft sang for us, too. Yeah, it was a memorable time.

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