Friday, March 12, 2010

Fish Fry

It's the Lenten Season and time for those Friday night fish fries. Have you ever been to one?

My grade school served fish only on Friday. Well maybe some other days to get rid of the order but you know what I mean.

Here is a quote from a young writer on the evolution of fish fries in Wisconsin:

"However, strict interpretations of such a unique tradition are not satisfactory to many folklorists, who dig deeper and insist the fish fry evolved from the meshing of many cultures. Janet Gilmore, who has a Ph.D in folklore believes the fishing culture of the Ojibway tribe played a major role in the evolution of the fish fry.

The only way for the Ojibway to survive here was to eat white fish and lake trout, which they dried so they could make it through winter,� she says.

Then all these immigrants descended on the area-Scandinavians, Belgians, French, Germans, Poles. They intermarried with each other, and with the Ojibway, and everyone kept on fishing (Martell, 2002, Aug., 5, D1).

However, eating battered fish in bars and restaurants did not become a social tradition in Wisconsin until around the time of Prohibition, Gilmore notes. These establishments had to find a gimmick to replace alcohol to consistently draw crowds. Offering fish fries on Friday nights was affordable for the whole family, which made Wisconsin one of the only states where entire families attend taverns together. Since then the standard fare for the fish fry is battered or deep-fried fish accompanied by a potato (baked, mashed, French fries, etc.) and cole slaw. By the time Prohibition was lifted, the tradition had already been cemented in Wisconsin and now a favorite beer could be ordered to wash down the fish (Martell, 2002, Aug., 5, D1)

Not one of the interviewees mentioned Prohibition as a reason for the popularity of fish fries, probably because it was before their time, but many noted the hand-in-hand relation of fish fries and beer. This could point to a relationship between the lifting of Prohibition and fish fries, but could also reflect Wisconsins overall love for beer."

I guess I have always liked fish on Friday, thanks to my childhood. That was all we had to eat at school on Friday. Remember the loaves and fishes? Fish has been connected to spiritual food for thousands of years.

The fish fry is big in New Zealand. It is still big here, too.

Our friend Scott Mires gave us vacuum packed fresh Walleye from Michigan lakes in exchange for hunting that white tailed deer on our farm.

It's been a good exchange and tonight it is time to taste another one of his catches.

Ed Winkle

1 comment:

  1. Now tell me you didn't have fish fry last night. I had too much macaroni and cheese with peas.