Fish n Brewis

Purity Hard and Sweet Bread

I guess every culture/region has some of its own “weird” foods, and Newfoundland is no exception.  I guess being reliant so much on fish as a locale (and by fish I mean cod, to Newfoundlanders any other fish has a name), we came up with or borrowed many unique methods of preparation.  One of these is Fish n Brewis. The link provided is wrong in my opinion though.  It says that fish n brewis uses salt cod and fisherman’s brewis uses fresh.  I’ve always known it to be the opposite; we always use fresh, and I personally don’t care for the salt fish variety.

Even in the fresh there are different methods of serving, but first… what is it?  Well its basically hard tack (hard bread) soaked in water to soften, and boiled fish.  Sound appetizing right?  Well it is delicious! Even better when served with rendered pork fat and scruncheons drizzled over it!  Some people prefer to keep the bread and fish separate, I’ve actually never tried it that way, I prefer it mashed together, drizzled with pork, and blackened with pepper, mmmmm.

Some people serve it with drawn or drawing butter, another thing I’ve never been fond of, though all it is is butter, onion and flour thickened as a sauce.

I’m not really sure the origin of fish and brewis, but I like to think its probably from the offshore fishery or navy, where non-perishable foods like hard tack were prominent, and cooks needed to improvise meals as best they can.

In any event, today’s supper was a memory of home.  Hope you get to enjoy some soon!

Jiggs Dinner

I’ve been told that the term “dinner” is used to reference the main meal of the day.  Back home in Newfoundland, that was traditionally the midday meal especially for fisherman, who had been out in boat since 4am.  The evening meal was usually lighter and called supper.   This carried over for most everyone, and we all called the midday meal dinner in school and elsewhere, even though for commuters, the supper meal was the bigger meal.  On Sunday though, midday dinner was usually the feast meal of the week, and that feast was usually Jiggs Dinner.

Jiggs Dinner was made up of all the traditional Newfoundland vegetables  boiled up with salt beef.  Salt beef sounds disgusting to some I know, but og my god, its like ambrosia for the initiated!  Missing from our dinner on the left is peas pudding.  Yellow peas boiled up with the rest of the vegetables in a cloth bag.  I never liked the stuff, so perhaps there’s more of a secret to it than that :).

Accompanying Jiggs Dinner was some sort of “roast”.  Nowadays, chicken or beef from the store is more usual, but back home, it would likely have been

Rabbit and Chicken in the pot, lots of onions.

Rabbit and Chicken in the pot, lots of onions.

moose, caribou, a duck or, as seen here, rabbit.  Whatever the meat, traditional Newfoundland roast was smothered in onions.  And the coup d’etat was the gravy.  The secret to the gravy was to add some of the vegetable juice to the meat drippings, make a flour and water thickening, and of course, add the Cross and Blackwell gravy browning.

After dinner, dad would likely help with the dishes, and then head off for a nap as the post meal coma would kick in.  Later that evening, we’d have the left overs potato made into potato, mustard and beet salads along with pickles, beets and cold meats, and perhaps some Kam to make a cold plate for our Sunday supper.