Recently I wrote a blog post about why I decided to move out of my home state, Wisconsin. If you missed that I would encourage you to read it!
To summarize a part of that blog, it was not because of Wisconsin itself. I love the state and always will, and I wear my Wisconsinite status with pride. One of the things I will miss most is the fish fry, an absolute Wisconsin staple.
The fish fry
A normal fish fry consists of breaded fish, usually perch, french fries, and potentially other sides like coleslaw. The meal isn't exclusively offered on Friday but is most popular on that day because of tradition. Members of the Catholic church abstain from all meat except fish on the Fridays of Lent. There are other roots as well
"While the fish fry is considered a midwestern tradition, its roots can actually be traced to the Germanic culture of the midwest. In fact, the fish fry is said to have taken off in the 1920s and 1930s, when local bars were unable to sell beer during Prohibition. Fried fish dinners were a very profitable source of new income, as fish were both plentiful from the many lakes in the area, as well as relatively low cost to make a dinner out of fish." History of the Fish Fry - The Cottage
Nowadays, numerous Wisconsin bars and supper clubs offer Friday Fish fry specials. Back in high school, I worked at a local restaurant and Fridays were by far our busiest day. Lines went out the door as people piled in to have the meal.
There is something more than just the food itself though. I suspect that the tradition falling on Friday is another reason for its popularity because it coincides with the end of the workweek. It becomes to celebrate the weekend and go out for a meal with family or friends.
The supper club only amplifies this. At many supper clubs, you order your meal in advance, and while the food is cooking, people gather at the bar to share stories and catch up with each others' lives. There is a real sense of comradery and you could strike up a conversation with literally anyone. Though, if you are eating where you will live, it is very likely you will know half the people in the bar.
Making Your Own
On the other hand, Wisconsin is filled with many people who love to fish. Our good family friend was always on his boat walleye fishing near Green Bay. During the winter, my friends' Snapchat stories often feature pictures of the latest harvest of crappie and perch.
Then, after bringing home the spoils, it is very common to have friends over and make an event out of frying your own fish. This is one of the best times to crack open a beer and enjoy the company of the people closest to you. Your neighbor will bring the potatoes, your classmate the coleslaw, and your parents have the drinks covered.
This often becomes more special than going out because there is a rewarding feeling about enjoying the spoils of your hard-earned work. Then the next week, it will be your friend's turn to host you at their place as you do it all over again!
The Friday fish fry is special. I can't wait for the next time I am home to indulge myself in this tradition again. I look forward to meeting old friends, sharing my Utah adventures, and enjoying a great meal.
Interested in following along with my journey more or connecting with me? Make sure to follow me on my socials!
Until next time!