Conan O’Brien was the first person I ever saw kiss a cod. It was 2003 and the NBC late night host was delirious because his wife had just given birth, but he manically recorded his show the next day, anyway. Newfoundland native Natasha Henstridge was the guest, and for some reason she introduced him to the tradition of drinking Screech, a harsh dark rum, and then kissing a cod to become an honorary Newfoundlander. There’s a whole song about the ceremony (it’s called a Screech In) in Come from Away, the crowdpleasing Broadway sensation about 7,000 American travelers grounded on the island in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Written by Canadians David Hein and Irene Sankoff, the optimistic one-act is a “big bearhug of a musical,” according to the New York Times. The Celtic folk-rock score includes an on-stage fiddler and tin whistle.
*Newfoundland Screech, incidentally, can be delicious. It was briefly available in Massachusetts, but might only be available farther north these days. If you find a bottle, try it with Moxie and a lime. No, really.