A Farewell to Fried

Fish & chips are nothing if not fun eats. The flaky batter, the crispy fries, mmmm who could ever not indulge in such delight?

Some of my earliest memories involve wrapping my head in those cool paper pirate hats from Long John Silvers. I’m really surprised LJS isn’t bigger than McDonald’s. Clown versus pirate! Who wouldn’t pick the pirate?

Anyway I did grow up and gave up most fast-food, fried food, greasy food, you get the picture. I grew up to be a health nut and with each rotation of the calendar I naturally steer further away from fried foods. I’m not a total prude. I do indulge but my treats are mostly of the cheese and grape variety.

But of course there is that one glorious exception.

Back in the days of regular life, Steve and I spent the occasional weekend in Nashville. An REI store was there and the downtown always provided great fun with shady honky tonks, trendy boutiques and good restaurants. Our favorite spots was this his Irish pub, Mullligans. The Sporting Paddys brought the house down and we all sang along to timely versions of “What Do Ya Do With a Drunken Sailor?” I’ve been to many Irish pubs that are beyond lame and stale but something about Mulligans felt otherworldly, perhaps not quite a true Irish bar but many notches above the typical. And oh the fish & chips…back then we got along just fine.

Those Nashville days are now years long gone but I did find a new place to indulge. Eamonns in Alexandria, VA. They’ve got a little corner place on Kings Street right in the heart of Old Towne. They serve fish & chips and only that. Your choices are large or small and then you must pick between an array of tartar sauces. Their only draft is Guinness served up thick as syrup. I don’t like Guinness but I like it there. Steve and I often hit this place after a long morning of playing with our niece and nephew. We stagger in, probably not looking so good, order way more than we need, then dive in, comparing our tartar sauce selections like they were the fanciest of wines.

In recent visits though I’ve noticed a rift has come between my and my beloved. My tummy feels disgusting after swimming with the fried fish. I believe that because I so seldom eat anything fried that I just can’t handle it. I’ve heard of longtime vegetarians not being able to digest meat even if they wanted. While I can digest my fish and chips, it so upsetting to my stomach as to make it not any fun at all. But the thought of no more fish & chips….

We’ve been traveling along the Pacific Coast for sometime and until a few days ago had not stopped at a seafood restaurant. We sautead scallops in the van one night and another time I made clam chowder but I had steered clear of my fried delight. Recently after a big driving day we rolled into Bellingham, WA. We were looking forward to getting a feel for this popular little town and what better way than a nice dinner out. So off we go to Big Fat Fish Company, a place more elegant than the name implies. I do it. I eagerly order up their halibut fish & chips. After not more than three or four bites my stomach is wondering why I’m pouring cooking oil into it.

I tell myself, “Don’t let on. Keep eating.” I don’t want Steve to know my misery. I don’t want the, “you know better” and “I didn’t dare talk you out of it” comments and as he sits there all smug eating grilled salmon and vegetables.

You see Steve has learned something that I’m still learning the hard way. While my heart longs for the mood fish & chips bring, a mood of blue collar indulgence, an imagined taste of gritty Britain with bar fights and drunken sailors, my stomach has about as much tolerance for the actual eating of it as a sixteen year old does for guzzling booze. While a sixteen year old will stay the course, I’m nearly twice those years and wise enough to know that I’ve beaten myself, what with this healthy lifestyle.

With sad heart but peaceful stomach, I’ll cut another piece of cheese, refill my wine glass and continue to wonder how a clown tops a pirate.

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