Thursday, 28 August 2008
In other news, Liverpool appear on the verge of signing the Spaniard, Albert Riera, from Espanyol for £9m. Meanwhile Chelsea look close to tying up a £30m deal for classy Brazilian Robinho from Real Madrid. And this perfectly illustrates why Liverpool will not win the league either this season or any other season in the near future. The Londoners are able to spend big money on established world class internationals with a proven track record of winning championships. Riera had a disastrous spell at Manchester City a few seasons ago and is not considered for the Spanish national squad at present. As I have said before and will say again, money talks in the Premier League (something which Alex Ferguson is very well aware of). As Arsene Wenger has discovered in recent seasons, it is now no longer sufficient to scour the continent for promising young players and develop them into league winners. You simply have to spend big to win the English League title and that is not likely to change any time soon. So while the Merseysiders persist in spending money on decent but hardly world beating players, that 19th League title will continue to elude them.
Thursday, 14 August 2008
Monday, 11 August 2008
The gradual improvements in fishing techniques and their contribution to the establishment of well known brands such as Birdseye are captured in impressive detail, from the discovery of 'long-lining' in the 17th century to the invention of frozen food technology. One the most noticeable aspects of the book is the level of research he has clearly undertaken, which is astonishing. The book is filled with factual, tragic and amusing anecdotes which the author has seemingly dug out in countless libraries ranging from Boston to Copenhagen. Kurlansky even intersperses the main narrative with historical cod recipes at the beginning of each chapter, and a more comprehensive 'cookbook' at the end. The book was even the winner of the Glenfiddich 'Best Food Book' 1998.
Much more than a biography of cod, Kurlansky also adds a political dimension, tracing its role in the age of exploration in the 17th Century, the onset of the slave trade, the American Revolution and, more recently, the bitterly fought 'Cod Wars'. Of course North Atlantic cod is now a threatened species due to over fishing, mainly by the Spanish, British and Canadians. The closing chapters therefore provide a rather sombre counterbalance to the sanguine first half of the book, not just in terms of the startling rate of the decline in fish stocks but also of the difficulties of fishing communities in adapting to new ways of life. Poignantly, Kurlansky quotes William Durant from 'The Lessons of History' :
"The first biological lesson of history is that life is competition. Competition is not only the life of trade, it is the trade of life - peaceful when food abounds, violent when the mouths outrun the food. Animals eat one another without qualm; civilised men consume one another by due process of law"
This was an enjoyable and surprising account of the economic, cultural and political significance of an otherwise unremarkable species, and is recommended to readers looking for something different. Whilst I have no intentions of reducing my cod consumption, I will certainly enjoy my next fish supper just that little bit more.