Fish And Brewis (Kenneth Peacock)

I went fishing last summer with old Danny Clarke,
Out hauling the trawl lines from daylight till dark;
We got there at daybreak, stayed most of the day,
Came back in the evening to salt it away.

The punt over yonder is old Billy Green's,
He is the best fisherman as two is between;
He has a new radio and he gets all the news,
But he can't stow a hogshead of good fish and brewis.

With our fish put away we'll go on the squid ground,
And in just a few minutes our jiggers are down;
And see them chew Beaver and squirt it up high,
Lie back on the gain-boards and laugh till you die.

The fisherman's wife she hasn't much ease,
She is out on the stage in slop to her knees;
She spends her day weeding with the hot sun overhead,
What splendid fine women our island has bred.

When springtime come 'round we'll go cutting spruce,
We'll make just enough to have fish and brewis;
If the cutting is bad then we'll go in the hole,
There's no other redemption but live on the dole.

####.... Author unknown. Traditional Newfoundland ballad ....####

Collected in 1960 by Kenneth Peacock from Gordon G Rice [1929-2006] of Seal Cove, White Bay, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 1, pp.123-124, by The National Museum Of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

From The Dictionary of Newfoundland English:
Beaver - locally made chewing and smoking tobacco. 1972 St John's Evening Telegram 24 Oct, p. 3: Imperial Tobacco's plant was located at the corner of Bond and Flavin streets ... and it produced its own brands for the local market including cigarettes such as Wings, Royal Blend, Flag and Gems, and other tobaccos, tobacco products such as plug tobacco, marketed under the brand name Beaver.
Fish and Brewis - cod-fish cooked with hard tack or sea biscuit.

Kenneth Peacock noted that brewis (pronounced 'brews' in Newfoundland) is hard-tack soaked overnight in water, boiled up high with cod-fish the following morning, and garnished with 'scruncheons' (bits of fried pork fat). Fish and brewis is supposed to be the traditional Sunday breakfast in some parts of Newfoundland. Peacock personally found it virtually indigestible at any time of the day. He said it is one of those national dishes like the Scotch haggis which mercifully has passed from popular usage so that its peculiar attributes may be more full appreciated at infrequent ceremonial meals. Peacock further noted that 'Beaver' is a brand of chewing tobacco and refers to the squid's annoying habit of squirting black juice at its enemies. Also, the 'stage' is a platform and shed built over the water where the fish are cleaned and filleted. The refuse is simply dropped through a hole in the floor into the sea.


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