Growing up, Fridays were fish nights in my family. Lots of you may also have grown up with this culinary custom, centred on the Lenten belief in atonement and privation. I guess the thinking was that meat was a treat, and since no treats were allowed during Lent, or on Fridays during Lent, or – heck – let’s just say no treat-meats on Fridays ever, folks were forced to eat fish.
That usually meant fish sticks when I was a kid. No hardship there. But if my mother was feeling fancy, it was steamed frozen sole, with steamed frozen spinach and packaged hollandaise, and you can be quite sure there was some suffering through that.
I recall though, that it wasn’t a hard and fast rule. If the neighbours were coming over, there’d be steak.
Still, every so often, when Friday rolls around, as Friday tends to do, I get these fishy feelings. So this past Friday, I got myself to The Whalesbone retail fish store for some serious deprivation.
The Brown Bag Sammich of the Day was Steelhead trout ($8). I regret to report it was utterly satisfactory in every sense – the pale orange fish moist, spice-rubbed, crunchy-fried, tucked into a deliciously chewy-sourdough bun with good ol’ iceberg lettuce, gooey-sweet caramelized onion and some sort of very tasty aioli.
No privation whatsoever in that Brown Bag. Though there was the freezing rain… just to remind me it was still Friday.
The Whalesbone Sustainable Retail Oyster and Fish Store is at 504 Kent Street, 613-231-3474
(First published in Ottawa Magazine, January 14/13)
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