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New Jersey Shad Festival
drove up to Lambertville, New Jersey a couple of weekends ago to attend a shad
festival. The town is on the Delaware River and lies about five miles north from
where Washington crossed the Delaware during the Revolutionary War. I was in
search of shad. I have heard of its deliciousness and wanted to taste it for
The town turned out to be
a bit too touristy for my taste. Although shad symbols abound along the main
street where vendors were selling shad and non-shad wares, there was almost no
shad. The explanation included a spring flood and a very off-course St. Lawrence
River whale that had had a heyday in the river—eating shad supposedly. And, due
to the flood, the festival had been postponed until well out of shad season.
Damns, overfishing, water pollution and dwindling habitat also contribute to
making the shad fishery in the Delaware River and rivers up and down the East
Coast just a fraction of the Colonial catch.
Still, one lone vendor was
selling shad sandwiches. Dare I ask the provenance of said shad? I took a few
pictures and leaned over the chef and whispered, “By the way, in light of fact
there is no shad in the river, where is this shad from?” Ears perked up, even of
the local reporter who had just finished his interview and had failed to ask
this seminal question. “Oh, it’s farmed shad from North Carolina,” the chef
replied, rather too proudly I think. A disappointed murmur went through the
crowd—but nobody got out of line.
In a few
minutes, I got my sandwich—and took my first bite of shad,
Shad has been called the “most savory” fish, but I could not say it was.
Farming might have
something to do with it. Shad is an anadromous fish that spends the majority of
its adult life at sea, only returning to freshwater in the spring to spawn. When
farmed, it could just swim around in circles for three to four years—which I
believe would greatly impact the quality of the flesh.
I hope the native shad are running again—and I’ll be able to taste some from the
The Hakluyt Society
Who was the first travel
writer in the world? It might have been Richard Hakluyt, a British supporter of
overseas colonization who chronicled voyages of discovery. His major work was The
Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques & Discoveries of the English Nation,
published in 1598-1600. If you want to explore
some of his writing topics, cruise over to
www.abebooks.com, a bookseller who specializes in rare and hard-to-find
books. Type Richard Hakluyt in the author space of the search engine, and it
will generate a list of very interesting topics. Some are downloadable e-books,
which are small sections of The Principal Navigations.
Of great value is the
historically important treatise entitled Hakluytus Posthumous, a
twenty-volume set of travelogues published by Hakluyt’s predecessor Samuel
Purchas. Some selections of his chronicles are also available in e-book
format, such as
discovery of the Hudson River by Master Henry Hudson in 1609 and his death in
1611: The second voyage of the Half Moon.
To learn more or join the
Hakluyt Society, see
http://www.hakluyt.com/index.htm. Check out the Exploration links.
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