freshen the cod for supper

jacdac

Senior Member
Lebanese
Rosalie Skehan left her kitchen sink without bothering to turn off the water running over the cod she had been freshening for supper.
Source: The Tommyknockers by Stephen King

Is the use of freshen as used in this context common? What does freshen the cod for supper mean? Thawing? Warming it up?

Thank you.
 
  • Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    I would assume it means running cold water over it. It's not a technical term, as far as I know. It's not uncommon to run water over a fillet of fish, or to soak it in water, in order to clean it, especially if it is not entirely fresh on the day of cooking.
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    A little context would help, but presumably this is salt cod and she's washing it to remove the salt.

    [Cross-posted with everyone]
     

    jacdac

    Senior Member
    Lebanese
    Thank you. The consensus is clear. Unfortunately, there is no relevant additional context to shed more light.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Sometimes we use "fresh" and "frozen" as opposites. And people sometimes run water over frozen fish to thaw it. Could she have been thawing the cod by running water on it?
     

    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    Is salted cod common in the USA? I've never had it, I thought it was mainly restricted to Scandinavia. I don't think salt is implied here, she would have said 'clean' rather than 'freshen' surely.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Is salted cod common in the USA? I've never had it,
    I don't think it is commonly eaten by many in the US these days. From what I've read, salted cod was widely consumed here on the east coast a couple of centuries ago, as it was in many other parts of the pre-refrigerated world.

    I don't think salt is implied here, she would have said 'clean' rather than 'freshen' surely.
    I can't speak with any confidence about what King had in mind when he used that word. To me, "freshening" something salty with fresh water makes some sense even though it seems unlikely to you. I probably wouldn't use the word "cleaning" to talk about removing excess salt from some salted meat or fish.
     

    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    I don't think it is commonly eaten by many in the US these days. From what I've read, salted cod was widely consumed here on the east coast a couple of centuries ago, as it was in many other parts of the pre-refrigerated world.

    I can't speak with any confidence about what King had in mind when he used that word. To me, "freshening" something salty with fresh water makes some sense even though it seems unlikely to you. I probably wouldn't use the word "cleaning" to talk about removing excess salt from some salted meat or fish.
    Well, given that Tommyknockers is set in Maine in the late 20th Century, I think the unusualness of salted fish and the fact that, as I say, it's common practice to 'freshen' fish simply to clean off the natural juices which fish secretes if left unfrozen for any length of time, I'd argue that was all that was meant. The wording of the source suggests she was just running a little water over it, not trying to defrost it or deep-clean it. But that's just my opinion.

    I note also that salted cod is a popular dish in Newfoundland however so I'm open to the possibility it might be more common in the the far North of New England than it is in my own area.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    "Freshen" seemed so unusual that I figured she must be doing something beyond merely trying to rinse the fish off. It's too bad that King isn't a member so that we could ask him directly to explain what he meant with that word.
     

    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    Or maybe removing mouldy parts. As this thread shows, it is not very clear what the process is. What is more important is that (like "not bothering" immediately before) it hints at a lazy, disorganized or maybe even disgusting or unhygienic attitude to household chores.
    I disagree with that, if my own argument is correct then it in fact suggests an ultra-hygienic attitude. Besides, in this case, the disorganisation is due to a chain of events involving space aliens and mind control, causing her to need to leave the kitchen immediately (I have the book in my bookshelf and checked it out).
     
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