or Yarmouth Bloaters, Bloat Herring
Whole herring, soaked in brine before being very lightly smoked. Known by this name since the 1830's (OED)
"How many ways can you offer a herring? This old formula - immortalised by Dickens* - involves smoking an ungutted herring. Now that is a radical course of action! It’s the only fish bigger than a whitebait I can think of where the innards are served up with the enclosing flesh. To this, they impart a wonderful gamey flavour - "... a mild yet piquant delicacy’ said fish guru, Jane Grigson. (From thefishsociety.co.uk)
Pepys diary has, "5th. At night Sir W. Pen and I alone to the Dolphin, and there eat some bloat-herrings and drank good sack."
"Why, you stink like so many bloat-herrings newly taken out of the chimney," Ben Jonson, 'Masque of Augurs.'
George Dodd's 'The Food of London' (1856) relates that; "The Yarmouth arithmetic is very strange, in the numbering of fish: 4 herrings make a 'warp'; 33 warps, or 132 herrings, make a 'hundred'; and 100 hundreds, or 13,200, make a 'last.'"
There is also a freshwater fish (Coregonus hoyi) of the North American Great Lakes called a bloater.
George Orwell's 'The Road to Wigan Pier' has it that "You see statues everywhere to politicians, poets, bishops, but none to cooks or bacon-curers or market-gardeners. The Emperor Charles V is said to have erected a statue to the inventor of bloaters, but that is the only case I can think of at the moment."
Postcard illustrating Yarmouth's famous bloaters
Origin: Unknown, c1922?
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