The Midwest Fish Fry

There’s something very satisfying about a community endeavor which evolves into a regional characteristic. Doubly so when it comes to food.

Take the fish frys held in the Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota area of the States. A fish fry has been around for quite sometime, starting as fundraisers for local Irish, Italian, Polish, and German churches during Lent. For some, the popularity of these events grew to such a point that some started offering fish on Fridays for the entire year, to the point where the churches and community halls could compete against one another for business.

In other words, if you’re a fan of battered fried fish, heading to the states surrounding Lakes Erie, Michigan, and Superior is akin to a child walking into Hershey’s. Not only is there a bounty of options available to you, but after decades of participating in this tradition, the purveyors of fried fish have got their techniques down.

Notices the picture above. The batter is crisp and hot, the fish inside moist and flavorful. These folks know what they’re doing.

How prevalent are fish frys? In Milwaukee, it’s getting to the point where the fish is moving beyond the churches and Ethnic Halls, and heading to the Micro-breweries. A Fish Fry is no longer the domain of the community leader, and has evolved into the domain of the commercial. While I have no problem with the breweries seeing and taking advantage of the marketplace, I can’t help but think that something has been lost. But as long as great fish is available to the masses (no pun), I suppose I can’t complain too much.