I’ve never been a “country” kind of girl, but Saturday night, when I went to my first fish fry, I kind of felt like one.
The atmosphere was like how I’d pictured a fish fry to be – garage driveway setting, 20-something guys clad in camouflage and workman’s boots and a giant deep fryer and bonfire burning side-by-side on the driveway.
Four of the guys went fishing the day before and caught more than 200 crappie, a local fish straight from “The Stink Hole” in Erie’s Presque Isle Bay. Nothing like utilizing our lake’s resources.
All of the preparation was done by the same guys who caught the fish because, apparently, deep fryin’ – like barbecue-in’ – is a man’s job.
I didn’t mind. In fact, I thought it was great that they took full responsibility of the meal.
Inside a cracklin’ pot was oil, fish, Oreos, pickles and Do-si-dos crisped to perfection.
I was especially excited to finally have my first deep fried Oreo, something I’d only heard about.
It was magnificent, until the Cajun seasoning that was in the “fried” ruined everything.
At least now I can check that one off my deep-fried bucket list.
I felt like I had to contribute to this fish fry somehow. I didn’t provide any of the food, make the batter or man the deep fryer, but I did relieve another girl of her flashlight-holding duty.
Basically, all I did was hold a flashlight over the bowl of batter, following one guy’s fork as he placed the fish into the pot.
Then – after the fish was fried to a harvest golden color – I followed the ladle full of fish with the flashlight from the pot to a tray.
During this time, the guys claimed which pieces of fish they had to have for themselves.
Then the guy ladling the fish pointed out that the deep fryer being used was actually given to him as a Christmas gift, and this particular fish fry was its first go at it.
And a job well done it did.
Eating local fish was exciting – yet frightening – given the rather unsettling history of The Stink Hole.
According to Lake Erie legend, at the turn of the century when the sturgeon fishing industry was flourishing, leftover carcasses from the fish would pile up in the northern bay area.
It eventually became known as the Stink Hole. Whether that story is fact or fiction, it stuck with me while I downed each piece of fried, Stink Hole Crappie.
But, it was interesting to eat something that my friends had caught themselves, right from our lake.
Fishing never really appealed to me, especially the part where I would have to wear those rubber overall waders and stand still for so long.
Maybe I’ll buy a fishing license this summer and head out on the bay with the boys.
It could be fun, as long as I don’t have to deal with bait – that’s just gross.