The word salmon, any variety of fish of the genera Salmo and Oncorhynchus, comes from the Latin salmo, which later became samoun in Middle English. Many Native American tribes depended heavily upon salmon in their diet.
Early European Settlers and the Salmon Diet
Early European settlers quickly got tired of a salmon-rich diet, with many indentured servants actually having a clause written into their contracts restricting salmon meals to only once a week.
Salmon was abundant on both the East and West coasts of America. The waters of the Northwest are particularly abundant with salmon, where it is known as "Alaskan turkey." In Hawaii, it is Lomi Lomi, a food that is highly prized.
New England first began canning salmon in 1840, shipping it all the way across the country to California. By 1864, the tables were turned, with California supplying the east with canned salmon. The waters of the East became fished out so that today all Atlantic salmon come from Canada or Europe.
There are eight species of salmon in North American waters, five in Pacific waters alone. Worldwide, commercial salmon production exceeds one billion pounds annually, with about seventy percent coming from aquaculture salmon farms.
Smoked Salmon History
Smoke salmon comes in a variety of forms, with the most popular being lox. Lox, first appearing in English in 1941, comes from the Yiddish laks and originated in New York. It was unknown amongst European Jews and is still rare in Europe.
Lox is cured in salt brine and is preferably made of Pacific salmon. Of course, the most popular menu item is thin slices of lox on a bagel with cream cheese.
Pickled lox has also become a favorite thanks to the Concord Hotel in the Catskill Mountains of New York, who came up with the recipe in 1939.