In choosing fresh fish, select only those that are thick and firm, with bright scales and stiff fins; the gills a very lively red, and the eyes full and prominent. In the summer, as soon as they are brought home, clean them, and put them in ice till you are ready to cook them; and even then do not attempt to keep a fresh fish till next day. Mackerel cannot be cooked too soon, as they spoil more readily than any other fish.
Oysters in the shell may be kept from a week to a fortnight, by the following process. Cover them with water, and wash them clean with a birch broom. Then lay them with the deep or concave part of the shell undermost, and sprinkle each of them well with salt and Indian meal. Fill up the tub with cold water. Repeat this every day; first pouring off the liquid of the day before.
The tub must stand all the time in a cool cellar, and be covered well with an old blanket, carpeting, or something of the sort.
If carefully attended to, oysters kept in this manner will not only live but fatten.
It is customary to eat fish only at the commencement of the dinner. Fish and soup are generally served up alone, before any of the other dishes appear, and with no vegetable but potatoes; it being considered a solecism in good taste to accompany them with any of the other productions of the garden except a little horse-radish, parsley, etc. as garnishing.
In England and at the most fashionable tables in America, bread only is eaten with fish. To this rule salt cod is an exception.