Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Herring Run...

We always seem to want the things we can't have. Along the same line, things we work for, or wait for are always a little sweeter. Chalk it up to human nature.

A few years ago on a family trip to Holland, we spent a good amount of time in search of the Maatjes Herring. This is a young fish that has yet to spawn. The fish are traditionally placed in an oak barrel in a salt brine for five days and then filleted and eaten raw with a little chopped onion. After the museum, in the small town, whatever the activity was that day didn't matter, it was followed by some inquiries for New Herring. I had heard all about it. My dad was born there and he and my uncle would reminisce about this Dutch delicacy, the sashimi of the Netherlands. We never did find any herring on that trip. Come to find out that we missed the first boat by one day. The story goes that when the fishing boats come into port the first barrel goes to the Queen and the second barrel goes to Grand Central Station in New York(read New Amsterdam).

Last year, completely by chance, I read that the New Herring was arriving in New York at the in Grand Central Station. I promptly organized a field trip with my brother, my dad and my uncle. We ate herring and drank beer and geniever or dutch gin. A great afternoon that I will not soon forget. The only down side was, we had to deal with a snotty waiter, and Maatjes Herring is more of a street food. You eat it standing up with your head tilted back, holding the fillet by the tail, a little of the juices drip down your chin. So, this year I hatched a plan to make a return trip. This time, we would skip the Oyster Bar, and the snotty waiter and buy the fish over the counter. Unfortunately only my Dad could make it. Brother and Uncle couldn't get away. Luckily Rob was available to join us. A little bit of traffic and a terrible time parking but, otherwise a seamless journey found us at , A family run shop offering smoked and cured fish since 1914 . A bit of negotiation between Dad and I, and we placed our order, stepped onto the street and with head tilted back enjoyed the new catch. I will admit that Maatjes Herring is probably not for everyone. Put it on the love- hate list if you will. The three of us had a short conversation about how to describe it and didn't come up with much. It's one of those foods that texture and flavor are dancing in your mouth at the same time and can't be separated. Full flavored, briny, velvety, slippery, salty, oily, rich and unctuous all come to mind but, words alone will never offer the experience of standing on a side walk, near a street once known as de Waal straat, head tilted back, enjoying a delicacy from your fathers homeland. True to form we did procure some beer before our journey home. Fittingly, we took the Holland Tunnel. And, yes, we did bring some back to share.

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