Saturday, February 9, 2008

Fish Fry Friday!

Yay! Now that it is Lent, Friday night fish frys are back at Nativity Parish in Torrance and I couldn't be happier.
I've been attending their frys for about 4 years now--ever since I just happened to be driving past the parish hall and saw the "Fish Fry To-Nite" sign. I drove home so fast and told Dale..."Get your coat honey, we're going to a Fish Fry!".
This year I see they are going to be happening every Friday during Lent, whereas in the past it might have been only 2 or 3 times.
Milwaukee has a huge Fish Fry culture and this was one of the things I did miss when I moved to California. In Milwaukee, most Catholic parishes will host one and every type of restaurant will have some sort of special fish offering. Everything from small corner taverns serving beer-battered cod to upscale places serving fresh walleye or lake perch. The local paper even has a special section in their restaurant guide devoted specifically to Fish Frys. In the last few years there has been a trend for places to offer both the deep-fried fish and a more heart-healthy baked fish. The parish I grew up in, and that my family still belongs to is considered to have one of the best fish frys in the city. They can serve 700 dinners at times.
Attending fish frys on Friday is a tradition in my family. There isn't one particular place we go...the fun is finding new places to try. Whenever I travel back there, I always try to hit one. In fact, I was there for my last birthday and I even got to WORK at the parish fish fry!
The traditional fish fry that I remember the best is lake perch with a cornmeal breading; coleslaw that is more on the vinegar side, rather than a creamy one; hot, thick fries; and best of all a slice or two of dark rye bread with sweet butter. The rye bread was special because not only did it have some caraway seeds but it had a sprinkling of kosher salt on top. Oh man, that is good bread. It used to be pretty common, but not so much any more. Lake perch too, is a thing of the past. Now if it is on the menu at all, it usually has a premium price.
The Fish Fry at Nativity is on par with typical Milwaukee frys. The choices here are beer-battered or baked cod, French fries or baked potato, creamy coleslaw (that seems to be home-made), a roll and all the usual condiments. Also included in the $7 price is coffee, punch and a piece of cake. Beer, wine and soda are also available for an extra charge. The hall where this takes place has been remodeled since the last time I was there and is larger now and quite nice.

The place was pretty crowded when we got there and we sat at a table with some other people. This is always an interesting experience. Dale was unfortunately seated next to an elderly woman who lamented to him how disappointed she was that Mitt Romney left the presidential race. But then again, she also said she had lived in Milwaukee for a short time and didn't like it! Well, nuts to her, I say.


john said...

I just love it when your "youngest" keeps the old days vivid. I guess that comes from her Mom.
The fish fry event is done throughout the year here on First Fridays. So, we get our infusion at least once a month. Also, we provide a very large salad bar. I guess they figure if you eat a salad then the "mercury" in the fish will be neutralized! Oh yes, we also serve Smelt during lent. Explain that one ?!

Jan and Doug said...

Fish frys are good. I wish they had Friday fish frys on Thursdays too. Anywho, last Friday Jan and I went to the Bavarian Inn with a friend. What I like is if they're not playing an accordian, they're playing piano. "Edelweiss" anyone?
But what I like most about Fish Frys is the kids running around. It's a family thing. It's funny to watch the kids at a salad bar staring at cole slaw and examining the chowder. Another place I like is Dino's a corner bar in Riverwest. Only drawback is you gotta watch your back or you might get shot dead. Also will often go through Serb Hall drive through and take some home for Jan and me. Don't like to eat at Serb. Too many pollacks. Seriously - it's like eating in the Houston Astrodome. Barrels of cole slaw. Wheelbarrows of perch and cod. Besides the service is too good. You can be in and out of there in 20 minutes. Mary Ruth, your comments inspire me to reconnect with some parish fish fry. I'm thinking Florian's. Omigod, it's right down the street from Burnham Journal. Yup. Fish Frys are good.

MaryRuth said...

Doug, thanks for the comments. I love Serb Hall...! But you are right--its a production. And they have Serb beer. (I think mid-month they;re having an accordion concert)
I guarantee if you go to St. Florian's you will be treated like one of the family. Check with my sis or dad to see when their choir is running it. My mom used to go there with all the other church ladies and make the salad bar preps on Thursday afternoons.
Good times.