September 21, 2014

'Tis the season of the fish fry

By Jessie Tobias
Staff Writer | info@ogemawherald.com
Posted 3/8/12

It’s Lent, and area residents know what that means — Friday fish fry!

I always find it ironic that so many people give up food-related items for Lent. Many might say they’re trying to make a positive change in their lives, or to purify themselves during this time of preparation for Easter, but they’re not fooling anyone... they’re clearing space in their diet for the fish fry.

Just last week I was talking to my brother, who moved to Illinois last winter, and he asked if we were planning on going out Friday. When I said yes, he asked what the possibility was that I’d be willing to overnight him a Styrofoam box full of battered, crispy, fish fry goodness.

It’s deep-fried manna.

And that might be a bit of a problem.

There are so many appealing characteristics about a fish fry. One, it’s tasty. Two, it’s dinner you don’t have to cook (and on a Friday too, when most of us are all but wiped out and ready for the weekend.) Three, it’s a community event, and it feels nice to sit down with your neighbors and fellow townsfolk and share a meal.

But it’s fried food, and a lot of it, and as we all know (and how could we forget, with talk shows and news anchors flashing pictures of overweight pedestrians walking down the street every five seconds?) fried food is not exactly the healthiest thing we could be eating.

The people who are fasting for Lent, or who are incorporating plenty of exercise into their regular routines, shouldn’t have a problem with packing on the fish-fry pounds. But for those of up who come to work, plop down at our desk and stay there for most of the day, fish fries should be enjoyed in moderation.

A wiser choice would be to scout the area for a fish dinner that offers baked or broiled fish, which often proves to be just as tasty as the fried stuff, and doesn’t get as soggy if it takes you a while to tote a takeout fish dinner home to the family. (If you clear space on the passenger side floor of your car and crank the heater up, it might even stay warm until you get home.)

I’ve even heard of fish boils. My brother attended one in Wisconsin. From his description, a fish boil is like a dinner my grandmother used to make in the crock pot with polish sausage. We called it “dinner in a pot,” because all the vegetables and the sausage were boiled together. The same goes for a fish boil — I bet with some cabbage, rutabaga, onions, carrot, and fish, you’d have a pretty good fish dinner in a pot.

One fact I’ve found to be helpful as I try to straighten out my health priorities is, you don’t have to be an angel all the time. Making a healthy choice one week doesn’t mean you can’t throw your scruples out the window, tie a bib around your neck and choose the battered, fried fish the next week. But keep the big picture in mind, and if you do choose the greasy stuff, maybe plan a walk Saturday morning, or eat a salad for lunch. It’s all about balancing your choices.

Fish fry is an enjoyable area tradition, and isn’t inherently bad for you unless you overindulge — and heaven knows, I plan to indulge this year. But it probably isn’t a good idea every Friday night, and I also plan to do some healthy things to offset my not-so-healthy choices.

It’s not against Lent rules to enjoy other things while you’re sacrificing for the holiday — but when it comes to fish fry, don’t go overboard.

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