Why is Friday night always considered Fish Night? Surely anyone can eat a fish as and when they choose? I understand that due to religious observances some people may adapt their dietry routines to accommodate this, e.g. Catholics do not eat meat on Good Friday. Some orthodox Catholics have made this a Friday tradition and do not eat red meat on any Friday. Generally speaking though, these countries (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) are the Mediterranean countries and they tend to be big on fish anyway.
However, the United Kingdom which is reknowned for being a great meat eating nation, also has this Friday fish tradition. How did this come about? History suggests that as a consequence of the rapid development of trawl fishing in the North Sea meant that Fish and Chips became a stock meal among the working classes. And during the second half of the 19th Century, the development of the railway connecting ports to cities meant that fish was available to the masses.
Perhaps this amalgamation of both religion and engineering created this Friday night tradition?
I remember my paternal Gran would regularly send out for a Friday fish supper. Later on, it was the meals-on-wheels people that would bring her this. At present, my niece thoroughly looks forward to her Friday school dinners; almost as if her fish and chips are the herald of the weekend!
The act of eating out of a newspaper, using your fingertips to unzip the batter exposing the white flesh beneath, feeling the vinegary steam rise up from the package you cradle in one hand is all part of the ritual. Its warmth in your hand both reassuring and comforting.
However, If dining at home I don’t want to create my own batter and get a deep frier going. Primarily because I don’t own a deep fat frier(!)but more to the point is that I am never going to be able to recreate the experience and feeling of nostalgia evoked by newspaper wrapped, batter covered, deep fried fish and chips doused in salt and vinegar.
I can satisfy my Friday Fish cravings in alternative ways.
Grilled swordfish and Moules Marinier is a simple and impressive alternative to fish and chips. I am not going to tell you how to grill swordfish as I have no wish to insult you but another equally simple (so simple in fact I can barely call it a recipe) dish and yet sublimely delicious are Moules Marinier:
2nd: Add the packet of mussels
3rd: Add a splosh (technical term) of white wine or sherry
4th: Cover the saucepan with a lid and cook for a few mins (NB: supermarkets stock cooked mussels in vacuum packs so they only need warming through)
5th: Sprinkle over some freshly chopped parsley.
Make sure to have a crusty loaf of bread to soak up all the cooking juices!