The approach of the season when Washington epicures can enjoy the luxury of "planked shad," reminds the correspondent of the St. Louis Globe - Democrat of the following story about Daniel Webster: "Webster was an artist in this line, and prided himself greatly upon his gifts. His only rival was an aged slave, a character on the river, called Sam. There were those who said that Sam was the only one who knew how to cook planked shad; others protested that the great statesman was supreme. On sunny spring days, when parties of gentlemen went down the river to watch the fish nailed to their boards, sizzling and browning before the blaze of an outdoor fire, it was arranged to have a trial for the championship between old Sam and Mr. Webster. Each contestant was well backed, and the lights of those early political days were all there. First Sam split the shad, seasoned them as he knew would most suit Mr. Webster's taste, and laid them before the orator done to a turn. "Really, Sam, this is the best planked shad I have ever eaten," quoth Daniel; and applause rang from Sam's adherents. Next Webster laid aside his toga and hovered around the fire, knife and salt-box in hand, watching the shad that he had prepared in the way he knew would best suit Sam's taste. Sam ate three mouthfuls rapturously, and exclaimed: 'Fore God, Mr. Webster, I neber have tasted planked 6had before!' Webster yielded gracefully the palm to Sam, outdone by him in compliments as well as in cooking."
Every little hotel and eating house fronting the Delaware at Gloucester has its specialty of " planked " shad. The fish, fresh from the stream, is cut in twain, fastened by tenpenny nails to a thick oak board, slanted toward a hot wood fire, duly basted and finally served at table on his oak gridiron. That the prince of American fishes, served under these conditions and flanked by asparagus and kindred dainties, is at his best, goes without further saying. Daniel Webster, I have heard, used to plume himself more on his ability to "plank" a shad than on his highest oratorical flights. But if I may venture a personal opinion against so famed an authority, the planked shad is not, after all, decidedly better than the same fish cooked prosaically on the domestic gridiron. He is fresher from the water, he is surrounded by the poetic novelty of odd cookery and service, and appetite is sharpened by the keen, watery air. Take these concomitants away, and the planked shad would lose half his fame.