Cod almighty: how a ‘mythical’ Faroes delicacy has vanished
A giant cod that was once a fishing staple is now so rare it has become the preserve of a few fine diners
It was no ordinary cod that Teitur Christensen was preparing. The head chef at Barbara Fish House, one of four restaurants located in tiny wooden houses in Tórshavn, the Faroe Islands’ capital, Christensen was hosting what has become known as a “Bank evening”, because of the main dish. In the small cosy rooms of these ancient houses – one of which was built more than 500 years ago – his team was getting ready to serve what has become an almost mythical fish: the Faroe Bank cod.
The Faroe Bank cod’s reputation is partly built on its size. It is huge: a three-year-old specimen is already twice as large, on average, as the Atlantic cod. But it is also legendary because of its rarity. A genetically distinctive member of the cod family, it was once plentiful before being nearly fished to extinction. In 2008, all commercial fishing of Faroe Bank cod was banned. Only the Faroe Marine Research Institute (Famri) is now allowed to catch them, when its researchers survey the fish population twice a year.