Sort of like canned tuna, but different
I just accidentally deleted all the text I wrote. So I’m reconstructing it! Aaaagh. Oh, well, it was probably too wordy anyway.
Today I did one of my regular walks, down the old unused railroad tracks that run under Veranda Street and I-295 and down past the B&M baked-bean factory to the out-of-commission trestle that used to cross to the Eastern Prom. I often walk in the other direction on the tracks, and that takes me between Presumpscot Street and the streets in back of Veranda Street. That’s another post, which I’ll be doing soon!
The section that I walked today is bounded by the Maine Yacht Center, Sherwood Street/B&M/Tukey’s Bridge, and the ocean. To me, the view from the tracks is one of the most beautiful in Portland. It feels like you’re heading out to the middle of the water, and everything above and below is blue. Today there was a lot of green and gold, too.
I bought two books on Portland history, hoping to intersperse an actual fact here and there. The one I’ve started reading, “Deering: A Social and Architectural History” (written by William David Barry and Patricia McGraw Anderson and published by Greater Portland Landmarks) is absolutely fascinating. I hadn’t realized that in the late 19th century, all of Portland not on the Peninsula was a separate town named Deering. I’d vaguely wondered why such disparate parts of town had the name Deering (Deering Center, East Deering, North Deering), but I guess I didn’t wonder enough to find out why.
So, B&M. According to the book, the company started out in the mid-19th century packing sardines. Early in the 20th century, its products included baked beans, chowder, and — canned fish, or fish flakes! According to an early 20th-century ad reproduced in the book, fish flakes were meant to make fish convenient (maybe that was a boon to mid-westerners), and they could be used to make creamed fish, fish souffle, and codfish balls. All of which I like.
However, although I respect B&M’s noble history as a pioneer of the canning industry, I just can’t get with fish flakes. Maybe it’s the name, but the idea of opening a parchment-lined container of mushy fish (it would have to be mushy, I think) sounds bad, despite the fact that the ad says the flakes are “as fresh and flavory as on the day taken from the ocean.”
I do enjoy the aroma of baked beans that wafts through the neighborhood, though.
Photo slideshow, below.