Dear Straight Dope:
Is "scrod" an actual fish or just a term made up to fill in for "catch of the day"?
Veg, Dex, Doug, and Ed reply:
Boy, look at this committee, wouldja? Like having the New York Yankees come to your house to play catch.
Old joke. Tourist comes into town, big seafood buff. He gets into a cab, asks the driver, “Where can I get scrod?” Cabbie turns around, looks at him. “Bud,” he says, “I’ve been asked that many times, many ways. But that’s the first time I ever heard it asked for in the pluperfect subjunctive.”
Now to work. First we turn to our friend Mr. Dictionary. Webster says scrod is “a young fish (as a cod or haddock).” You figure we’re going to give you grief for not looking this up yourself. Of course, you slug. But then we’re going to go the extra mile. Because we happen to know that restaurants sometimes list cod and haddock separately on their menus. What distinction are they trying to draw here? Doug, who knows about these things, says scrod in restaurants is indeed just young cod. There is a small difference in the quality of the meat in the immature fish — I’m sure a sophisticated palate could probably make the distinction, based mostly on texture. An almost perfect parallel can be seen in the difference between beef and veal.
So there you have it, bub. You’re eating baby fish. Bon appetit.
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