What is a haddock?

Not being a marine biologist–living within half an hour of the ocean for the better part of my life doesn’t count, unfortunately–I was forced to do some research when it came time to select a name for the religious society featured in my book. Using fish as a key element of the Brotherhood’s creation myth seemed like an obvious choice given that the religious order in my book is supposed to parallel Christianity. I attended a Christian school through junior high and am probably more fluent in Biblical parables and references than your average Christian, much less the average agnostic. And frankly, it’s always bothered me that I didn’t have a use for these stories after jumping the religious ship in high school.

I’m not really certain why fish feature so prominently in the Bible, but between the tale of Jesus multiplying two fish (along with five loaves of bread) to feed a large crowd and the story of Jesus insisting that his followers cast their nets on the other side of the boat, the fact is, the humble water-dweller plays an important role in a number of these stories. Plus, there’s the Jesus fish, which I suppose is helpful in determining the religious persuasion of the driver of the vehicle sitting in front of you at a stoplight. I’m never really certain what I’m supposed to with that information, but at least it’s there, I suppose.

So, I chose the haddock to represent my religious order, mostly because it was a fish with which I had no associations. In fact, until I started researching types of fish I might want to use in my book, I wasn’t even aware of its existence. And I like the idea of being the writer responsible for creating an identity or myth around an animal. C.S. Lewis has his lions, William Blake has his tigers, and pretty much every fantasy writer has their dragons. I figured no one would mind all that much if I laid claim to the humble haddock.

haddock

I still don’t know that much about the haddock, mostly because it doesn’t seem to be a species that excites a great deal of curiosity. But here are the basics, according to Merriam-Webster:

had·dock noun \ˈha-dək\
plural haddock also haddocks

Definition of HADDOCK

: an important food fish (Melanogrammus aeglefinus syn. Gadus aeglefinus) of the cod family occurring on both sides of the North Atlantic that has a black lateral line and dark patch above the pectoral fin

And there you have it. What little else I know on the subject (they spawn between January and June, an average-sized female produces 850,000 eggs per year, and that they’re a popular choice in British fish and chips) I culled from Wikipedia. I have yet to eat haddock, although a number of recipes surfaced when I began my research into the subject, and I plan to try it at some point (and possibly even serve it at my book release party in August). If you happen to possess more information on the subject–either culinary or y’know, just facts, I’d be happy to learn more. I’m especially interested in photos of my fishy muse, if you happen to have any.

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