Seasoned with Kindness
words & photography Gail Sweat
In 1993, still reeling from the death of my beloved husband at age 49, I flew to Maine to spend time with myself, to walk empty beaches and drive unfamiliar roads, looking for a sign that everything would be all right.
One late afternoon I walked the little boardwalk through the dunes and beach roses from my rental cottage to Scarborough Beach. I stepped
onto the sand, eyes brimming with tears, and began to move, head down, looking for sand dollars.
My mission had just begun when a woman’s voice came from behind. “Are you searching for something?” I barely smiled and then told her I was always looking for signs. “Me too,” she said smiling.
We walked along together, mostly in silence, picking up little gems and then casting them back until I came upon a sand dollar. I held it warm in my hand.
After a short time she told me that she would need to leave soon. She asked what I was doing the following evening, adding she was having a little gathering of women for lobster and said casually that if I happened to be in her neighborhood at around 6pm to stop by. She gave me her
address and left.
The next day I drove up the coast, dipping in and out of villages, exploring coves, briefly shopping and then headed back to my little
cottage by the sea.
I had no intention of stopping by for this suggested feast; after all, I didn’t know this woman and wasn’t feeling like good company.
But driving back down the coast, I glanced
up just in time to see the exact exit she had
mentioned, and noted the clock was showing 5:30. “Is this one of those signs?,” I mused, and
decided to drive in her direction.
As I approached her home my car pulled off the road. I sat for just a moment, but before I knew it I was knocking on her door. She didn’t seem surprised to see me and welcomed me into this warm gathering. Soon a platter of lobsters appeared and then a large casserole dish of steaming fish. I almost didn’t try the fish because I was there for lobster, but I am so thankful I did.
The evening seemed short because it was so
full of stories and laughter. There was no feeling of being “from away.” This group of Mainers embraced me as I stumbled through dissecting the lobster, dripping with butter. No one tried to direct this dissection, no one pointed out
the butter stains on my shirt or the grease on my chin.
We talked like old friends catching up on each other’s lives and caring deeply about what we heard. For me this evening was like an invitation to come home to this state where I have now lived for 25 years.
I couldn’t have known Trish’s recipe for haddock would become one I’d serve hundreds of times and always be one guests would copy.
I believe that it tastes so good because of the many flavors, but mostly because of the fullness of memories that surface each time I pull it from my recipe box. It is a treasured reminder that a moment of kindness can truly last a lifetime.
Thank you, Trish!
Honeycup Haddock by Trish
1½ sticks butter
2 cups breadcrumbs or Ritz crackers made into crumbs
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion salt
¼ teaspoon pepper (chili, black, red or cayenne or a combination)
1 pound haddock
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 jar Honeycup mustard, or equivalent
Melt butter and mix with cracker or breadcrumbs.
Mix in seasonings.
Cut haddock into medium pieces and place in buttered casserole dish. Squeeze lemon juice over fish and immediately spread entire jar of Honeycup mustard over the fish, coating thoroughly. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over fish, coating fully.
Bake at 350°F 20–25 minutes, until fish is flaky in the middle.