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The Art of Cooking and Eating Eels {format} {format} 2:01 Viki Merrick

Preparing a slippery product of the sea.

Broadcast: Nov 6 2003 on NPR Day to DaySeries: WCAI/WNAN Sonic IDs Subjects: Environment, Food

Commentary: One man's eeling memories and experience

November 7, 2003 from Day to Day

MADELEINE BRAND, host: And if you're not going star gazing this weekend, how about going fishing? Get your pencils ready, because you're about to get a lesson on what you should do once you go clamming and eeling.

Mr. MILTON JEFFERS: Well, I learned it from my father. I learned a lot from him, and I found out a few things on my own ...(unintelligible) as a kid here and quite a lot of eeling, too.

Well, you have a spear. It comes down. It has barbs that turn up like this. And then in the middle, we have a big what we call spade, and that sticks out beyond the barbs, so if you hit a rock or a log or something, it doesn't damage the barbs. And you just have to know what kind of bottom eels bed down in. There's only a certain bottom they'll bed down in. It's got to be quite soft, so he won't bed down where it's sandy, and it's not too mucky. It's got to be just about so. And you just cut holes in the ice till you find the right bottom, and you catch eels.

And you bring them home and you skin them. You cut the head here back to the back skin and cut the belly out, take the guts out, and then just pull the whole eel right out. And you cut them up in little chunks like that, and fry them. Or my mother used to make eel stifle, which was a potato and onion, salt pork and eel--make--what it really is, is stew. And another way, she'd take a pan and put just a little lard or bacon fat on the bottom so the eels wouldn't stick, and put them in there, and just put them in the oven and bake them right like that. Oh, my God, they were some good, yeah. I always called it dry bacon, but, boy, they were good. Yeah, they're a real fine eating fish, eels.

BRAND: That story was told by the late Milton Jeffers of Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard, and was produced by Viki Merrick for WCAI and WNAN in Massachusetts.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: DAY TO DAY is a production of NPR News and I'm Madeleine Brand.