Friday night in northeastern Wisconsin — Thorins approve

I’ve already talked about my affection for the yellow perch. Friday night in general — and Friday night in Lent in particular — is the time to eat fish around here. Everyone in northeastern Wisconsin wants fish fry on Friday nights. This was a Catholic Lenten tradition but it spread to Lutherans and even Jews. The tables open up around noon. My dad and Flower, being “more mature” people, as he says, wanted theirs around 4:30. I delayed into the evening, thinking I’d stay home as I was still a little under the weather, but after a friend FBed me a picture of hers, I gave in around quarter after seven.

So I went to the closest tavern and sat down at the bar. First, we ordered a delicious doppelbock, which is also a typical beer style for Lent. Originally, monks drank it to replace calories while fasting.


Lots of malt and some hops were harmed in the brewing of this beer.

Double bock is a relatively alcoholic beer, and Lego Pointy-crown Thorin, although he is fiercely determined, should have taken it a little easier. “Tiny sips!” I told him. But he wasn’t having it.

This is what I mean when I say everyone has to choose consumption that is appropriate to them. I made sure he had a designated driver to get home, though.

This is what I mean when I say everyone has to choose consumption that is appropriate to them. I made sure he had a designated driver to get home, though.

The area-typical drink before dinner on Fridays is a brandy old-fashioned. My dad likes them sweet with olives. I pretty much cannot drink that — tastes like cough medicine to me. My signature cocktail is a vodka tonic, but it doesn’t really go with this meal. So I stuck with the beer.

And then, the main event, which is the fish fry. We always get lake perch, which is the standard around here. You can get other things, though — haddock, for example, if you don’t really like the taste of the fish. The bartender tried to sell me on bluegill, which was on special, but as my father would say, who would pay to eat bluegill? And ideally, the perch comes from the lake, though sometimes they sell you farmed perch and don’t tell you.

Although LEGO Thorin was still sleeping off the doublebock, POP! Thorin was excited.

I had to wipe some grease off of his plastic hair.

I had to wipe some grease off of his plastic hair.

You get four butterflies (both sides of the filet, attached at the top), coleslaw, a slice of buttered rye bread, and the potato of your choice (I always have baked and add butter). You also get tartar sauce. Obscura’s theory is that it isn’t real fish fry unless the tartar sauce comes in a squeeze bottle. You can usually upgrade to a larger portion, but four butterflies is enough for me.

It was good.

I saw a bunch of people I went to high school with, but I sat in a sort of corner of the bar and just observed everything that was going on. Wisconsin, as it lives and breathes. And all the reactions I have to that. When I walked outside, it was snowing lightly, just the kind of fluffy snow I love. I brushed it off the car and drove home.

~ by Servetus on March 5, 2016.

12 Responses to “Friday night in northeastern Wisconsin — Thorins approve”

  1. Right there with you. Beautifully evocative. Why WOULDN’T you pay to eat bluegill?


    • LOL. My dad would say — because it’s really easy to catch. You could say the same thing about perch, but he doesn’t like to fish on Lake Michigan so we eat our perch in restaurants. They went fishing last fall in Minnesota and got their legal limit of perch, though, and ate them all up.

      You never used to see bluegill on restaurant menus around here — I think there’s a generational change occurring where a lot fewer local people fish but they still want to eat them.


  2. Brilliant! Not sure which impressed me most – your beautiful imagery (true) or LPT’s excited face (maybe not so true 😀)
    Laughed until my stitches hurt



  3. Ooh, that really looked good! So glad you took charge of Thorins keys…friends don’t let friends drive drunk. LOL! I’m with you there on watching the townspeople from a corner booth. I currently live and work in my hometown. ..teaching in my former High School. I can’t believe how many people have stayed and it’s really amazing to see so many off my former classmates’ children! It’s pleasantly uncanny. Some have asked to see their parents in my yearbook…lol! Life certainly has its oddities, doesn’t it?


    • friends don’t let friends drive unconscious … although his legs were kicking weakly by the time we left …

      This was the funniest thing to me: The big summer event is the Catfish Races (been going on for 25 years or so) and it ends with a big concert. The name of the band is a big secret and there are posters up all over town saying “watch for the announcement.” The guy at the bar next to me (whom I didn’t recognize) had set an envelope down on the bar, big white envelope marked CONFIDENTIAL and Catfish Races Band. And then walked away from it to talk to someone. Missed my chance!


  4. I live very close to a Great Lake, and lake perch on Fridays is pretty big around here during Lent. Love it! Now you’ve made me really hungry….


    • There’s something about a picture of it …

      I feel like this is one of those moments that absolutely connects me to a past generation somehow. Eating this at this time.


  5. Yum. Suddenly I’m hungry for fish. And returning to Wisconsin for a visit. While I was born and raised and still live in Texas, my Mom grew up in Spring Green and my favorite cousins lived in Beaver Dam, Milwaukee, and Madison. When we drove up to see family, Dad and Mom also took us to see some wonderful things around the state. I read your tales of Wisconsin and remember all the wonderful times I had up there.


    • Spring Green is really pretty, although I admit that one of the things I associate with it is mosquitoes because of going there for American Players Theater in the summer and sitting outside and having to spray up or pay the price …


  6. […] that the top three favorite dishes of most people at these facilities are Wisconsin chili, fried fish, and bratwurst. (And anything with cheese on it.) All of them also have more intensive facilities […]


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