Thinking about Spot (the fish)

A male spot from MAAT near Quinby, Virginia

The spot, a noble fish, still favored by Chesapeake cooks connected to place. Meade and Charles Amory of Amory’s Seafood in Hampton, Virginia, note that the spot was one of the five favored fish in the historic fisheries of the Chesapeake.¬†Conversations with Danny Doughty and Mary “Mama Girl” Onley elicited recollections of fish “fried hard” and served with pan-fried apples, baked sweet potatoes, and “short bread” – the last a variation on baked dumplings.

The sign of the spot identifies Amory's Seafood, Hampton, VA.

The spot, claims our friend Pooh Johnston, got its distinctive markings from where Jesus touched the fish and divided them to feed the multitude. Even if it’s fiction, Danny remarked, it should be true. Fried spot would be tasty on this chill and rainy afternoon, but, alas, they have fled to warmer waters not to return until the coming summer. I’ll be ready when they return.

H.M. Arnold, proprietor of the Bayford Oyster House, describes salting spot (and other fish) for winter meals. Click to listen to  HM Arnold on salting spot and other fish.

The Passing of Laura Dennis

Laura Dennis, 2010

In the blue brilliance of a morning after a turbulent day of storms, Laura Dennis’s family and friends laid her to rest. One of the great cooks of the Eastern Shore, she was eulogized and remembered for caramel cakes, egg salad sandwiches, sweet potato pies, spoon bread, and how as a little girl during the Great Depression she pulled her wagon door-to-door through the streets of Cape Charles delivering her mother’s baked goods. She once sent me a slice of that renowned caramel cake and tasting it was a revelation. Of meaner spirit than Mrs. Dennis, I did not share.

Thornton Dial at the Ackland

Collection of the Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

On March 30, 2012, the Acklnad Art Museum at the University of North Carolina will debut a thematic exhibition of Thornton Dial’s first works on paper dating to 1990-1991. The fifty images in the show are accompanied by a full color book that contains essays on Dial’s art and drawings by Cara Zimmerman, Colin Rhodes, Glenn Hinson, Juan Logan, and Bernie Herman.