[Sca-cooks] Fish at feasts

Gretchen Beck grm at andrew.cmu.edu
Thu Nov 20 11:40:19 PST 2008

--On Thursday, November 20, 2008 2:29 PM -0500 jimandandi at cox.net wrote:

> I am dallying with the idea of serving fish at a feast I'm doing in
> February, based on Chiqart and Menagier of Paris. What I would love to do
> is a whole roast fish "swimming" on a bed of decorated rice, with green
> sorrel verjuice on top and sprinkled with small whole shrimp. I have been
> warned away from doing this dish because "people don't eat fish at
> feasts" and "what about the bones?". So.
> Have you ever served fish at a feast? How? How was it received?
> If you have not, would you like to?

We're in a landlocked area where fish is not a normal part of the everyday
diet (except for the ubiquitous fried fish sandwich), so we heard something
of the same thing.

That said, I've served a couple of fish dishes at feasts -- with
considerable success. There were some people who didn't eat it, and some
who didn't like it, but most people both ate and liked. I'll always regret
the day I didn't save some of the calamari side dish (served after the
manner described in Platina). "I'll get plenty back, people only sample
wierd food". Not a bite, not a drip, not a drab came back to the kitchen.
Another big success was a filet (essentiall a 1/2 of the fish slab,
deskinned and deboned -- as you buy it at the warehouse club) of salmon
roasted on a grill then poached in wine served with a long pepper sauce.  I
think your plan sounds lovely.

The trick is to make sure that fish isn't the only thing for people to eat,
and that there are things to eat that the fish hasn't touched.  Another
trick is, if it's supposed to be served hot, make sure it hits the table
piping hot. Lukewarm and mostly cold fish that is supposed to be hot is
just, well, yuck... Put out little plates for the bones -- people are
smart, they'll figure out what to do with them (after all, they do it with
chicken on a regular basis).

toodles, margaret

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