March’s latter half brings the promise of longer days, and as the locals say, ‘the smell of money is in the air’… the money being the abundance of cod for catching. The very essence of Lofoten living is in its prime during cod-fishing season. The whole community gets involved, with children busy working as tungeskjærere (tongue cutters) to earn some lucrative pocket money. When a particularly big catch is hauled in, it’s not unusual to see local kids, who’ve been called out of school to help with the bounty, dashing across icy paths in orange oilskins and carrying bloody knives. It sounds like a health and safety officer’s nightmare, but it’s simply the way things have been done for many generations. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
The arctic cod season usually arrives at the end of February, when the snow begins to settle. But this year, the annual migration was underway long before then. Masses of cod have made the journey to the warmer waters of Lofoten to spawn, or as we say, make love. Fishermen are already busy, and the race is on to catch the coveted kaffetorsk, which translates to ‘coffee cod’. For more than 50 years, the local newspaper Lofotposten has rewardarded catches above 30 kilograms with a kilogram of coffee. Much-appreciated warmth and fuel during a long day out on the waters.
During Kitchen On The Edge Of The World last March, the seas were in a rage like we hadn’t seen in some time. It meant that our chefs could only get out on the boat for a grand total of 18 minutes over the entire weekend, and even then they had to hug the shore. But when they did manage to nip out (we’d been watching the weather app like hawks for a window!), they hauled in a bounty of fat, fresh cod. Valentine returned with a triumphant grin on his face, claiming “there’s a carpet of them down there! Lucky us, lucky kitchen”.
Let’s hope for optimal weather conditions, but equally bountiful hauls at the next trip.