The Veneto region and Venice have a long history and connection with the Atlantic cod, which began at the end of the 15th century, initiated by the Venetian merchant Pietro Querini.
After suffering shipwreck on 1431 in the North Sea, Pietro Querini found himself and some of his crew stranded on the coasts of the Lofoten Islands. The accounts of his journey describe the drying of codfish in Røst Island, and it is assumed that he brought back stockfish to Italy, which might have been the start of the stockfish trade from Norway to Venice. Trade with the Venetian markets and an increase in consumption began in the 16th century, mainly following a demand of the large Venetian Jewish community, which used to cook the “baccalà”, “stoccafisso” “oro bianco (white gold)” days in advance to be eaten on Saturdays when cooking and lighting fires was forbidden due to religious reasons. Many of today’s recipes derived from the Jewish culinary traditions of the Venetian Ghetto and from the indications given by the Council of Trent (1454-1563) on how to eat lean following the Christian Calendar. Since then, the baccalà prepared in various different ways became a recognised regional dish and a symbol of the Veneto region. The baccalà, among other dishes, as Ulderico Bernardi points out, since the 16th century became one of the symbols of a particular food identity called “Mediterranean diet”, which does not refer only to the geographical area around the Mediterranean sea, but it is more concerned with the geographical history of communication, trading, travelling and multiculturalism from the East and other countries of selected foodstuff, a past which highly characterised Venice and the Venetians. In these terms, the codfish represents certain social behaviours and economic practices of the Venetian community.