The codfish brotherhoods are associations, informal groups or organisations formed by people who are passionate about the culinary history of Arctic cod. The main aims of the codfish brotherhoods are the preservation of the cultural and culinary identity of Arctic cod in the region and the quality of the product that is served in gastronomies today. There are many codfish brotherhoods in Europe, and some examples are the “Venerabile Confraternita of Bacalà alla Vicentina” (Italy), the “Dogale Confraternita del Baccalà Mantecato”(Italy) and the “Confraria Gastronomica do Bacalhau” (Portugal).
The “Confraternita del baccalà alla Vicentina” (Italy) has been established at the end of the 1980s in the region Vicenza, and the “Confraria Gastronómica do Bacalhau” (Portugal) was created almost ten years later in Ilhavo, a former fishing town which is considered the Capital of Bacalhau (Confraria Gastronómica do Bacalhau).
The brotherhoods have their own set of rituals, membership rules and costumes that signify those initiated into the group. The brotherhoods play an essential role in the construction and the promotion of codfish identities today. They function as connecting agents between restaurants and codfish importers. They are also important in stabilising and maintaining transnational relationships which are the basis of trade agreements. Additionally, they organise cultural and gastronomic festivals, exhibitions, culinary awards, workshops and cooking shows.
In 2004, in Valencia it was established the CEUCO – Conseil Européen des Confréries gourmands, the formal main organisation of the European gastronomic brotherhoods. Every year CEUCO organises a European congress as well as the distribution of several awards such as “Best European Restaurant”, “Best European Gastronomy Festival”, “Best European Winery”, “Best European gastronomic research project”, “Best European agri-food initiative”, “Best European Institution for Tourism and Gastronomy”.