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TDG: All In The Family: The Fish Course


Varmint
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If you can pick your own berries, why not catch your own fish at the local tourist-trap trout farm? Read about the L'il Varmints' experience in this edition of "All in the Family."

I try to teach the children lessons about the sanctity of life as the fish, sucking for oxygen, lose their heads and innards. I remind the children that the fish have sacrificed their lives so we can enjoy them for our dinner. The L'il Varmints, however, think only of how cool it is that the heads still twitch a bit after they've been cut off.

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Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Too funny! I can relate to this since my son did exactly the same thing the first time we took him fishing. In the end, he'd eat anything but the fish! :biggrin:

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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That is really funny. I used to fish a lot. Everything from speckled trout, redfish and flounder in the bay to billfish 100 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico. I haven't done that in years. When I get into the house on the bay, I will commence fishing again. I am looking forward to doing that trout filet encrusted with pecans from my pecan tree. Friends with two tykes are looking forward to intoducing them to the wonders of fishdom as food. Why do I have the feeling that the outcome will be the same?

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Varm, did the fish from the trout farm taste different, or vary in any other detectable way, from trout caught in the wild?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'm not sure I can answer that, as I haven't eaten stream or "wild" lake trout in ages. Most of the trout you buy in the stores are raised on farms, and they have a very mild flavor. My main memory of stream trout was that they had a much deeper flavor -- "fishier" to some -- but I really don't have vivid enough of a recollection.

Trout is not my favorite fish, as it's one of the bonier types out there. Even after removing much of the bones, there's still a ton of small pin bones throughout. I need a good fish-fileting lesson!

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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I wonder whether it's best to start the kids' fishing experience at a trout farm, where catching fish is as simple as dropping a line in the water. It certainly bears no resemblance to reality.

Great story. Brings back my memories of fishing with my grandfather in upstate NY. Hours of boredom in a rowboat, and of course it can't really be fishing unless you get up at 5am.

But for some reason, the older I get, the more I like to fish.

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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Nice work Varmint.

While my parent have a house on Caney Lake in North Louisiana and I grew up fishing pretty much 3 or 4 times a week (more or less year round except during hunting season) I too resorted to the pond experience when the boys were younger. Down here it is a catfishing experience rather than trout, but other than that the pond trip was exactly as you described.

They do eat fish with a great deal of gusto now that they have gotten older and in fact, will eat it raw when presented on a little plate with wasabi and ginger. They are smart enough to know that bream tails are one of the finest things to ever come out of hot grease and have learned to steal them while no one else is looking (chips off the old block :wink: ). Their favorite way to eat fish is BBQ'd redfish. Skin on filets, cooked skin side down over hot coals with a very thin BBQ type dressing/sauce. It comes right off of the crispy skin completely boneless and is really delicious. (I took some not very good pictures when I did this before New Years and if I can ever figure out how to post them I intend to, as the technique lends itself to many kinds of rough scaled fish).

Western North Carolina is wonderful. My boys go to camp in Mentone AL (Lookout Mountain Camp) and we usually spend a few days directly afterward in a house up on the Ocoee. I love it up there. Besides the scenery there is an abundance of great produce stands and many of them vend some of the finest watermelons I have ever had the pleasure of dripping down my chin.

I enjoyed your article and wanted to take the time to tell you not to give up hope. They will come around to eating fish (and salad, etc.). I think you just have to put it in front of them enough times until they finally consider it to be something other than unusual.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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They eat fish, fortunately. They just didn't like eating the fish they had caught and seen executed earlier that day. And Mrs. Varmint pointed out to me an hour ago that my nine year old actually ate a few bites and liked it. He just wanted the mac and cheese more!

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Great story Varmint! And remember, you're planting seeds. Just because they didn't eat it now, doesn't mean they won't tap into that fishing memory in the future. Nostalgia can be a great motivator...

Those who do not remember the pasta are doomed to reheat it.

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They eat fish, fortunately. They just didn't like eating the fish they had caught and seen executed earlier that day. And Mrs. Varmint pointed out to me an hour ago that my nine year old actually ate a few bites and liked it. He just wanted the mac and cheese more!

I had the same situation on New Years day when my nieces connected the photos on the mantle (of my fourteen year old son Miles with his latest victim, a very nice spike) with the stuffed backstraps on their plates. Much crying and screaming ensued :shock::laugh: . It was pretty funny, but THEY WERE NOT going to eat any more of it once they found out it was Bambi's big brother.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Nice article, Varmint!

I remember my dad taking my brother and me to a trout farm when we were kids. Both of us grew up fishing. I used to spend summers with my grandparents and uncles in NC bass fishing nearly every day. My grandfather was a stickler -- the only food we could bring was Vienna Sausages and crackers and there was NO talking in the boat. Probably more for his sanity than anything else :biggrin:.

I got to pass a little of that along last year when we went to Pawleys Island. We had a house on the marsh with a long pier. Jack, my nine-year-old had been fishing in a pond before, but had never learned to cast and certainly had never encountered a hungry crab hanging on to the end of his pole :shock:. The hardest thing for him to get over, though, was hooking a minnow for bait. Cruel and unusual punishment, as far as he was concerned.

i1991.jpg

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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One of the things that I'm trying to impress upon my children is that when it comes to meat, something was killed before it became dinner. Of course, they may all end up vegetarians if I push too hard!

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Dean, Dean, Dean... Nice story.

You should have used my mother's response whenever I said I didn't want to eat something: "You don't have to like it, you just have to eat it" which was usually followed by "you can eat it now, or for breakfast tomorrow -- your choice." And, boy did it work! Er... not. :smile:

--

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Vienna Sausages and crackers

These items, accompanied by sardines packed in mustard, constitute a well balanced diet for fishermen all over the world. :laugh:

As much as I hate to admit it to this group of urbane gourmets, I still like Vienna Sausage (where I live it is pronounced-VI eena) and saltines with a little French's Yellow Mustard.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Has anyone heard of the apparently popular sport in Oklahama of catching giant catfish barehanded, known as "Okie Noodling" or the apparently popular documentary of the same name:

http://64.4.14.250/cgi-bin/linkrd?_lang=EN...odling%2ecom%2f

:laugh: It is not just in Oklahoma and it goes by various names, noodling, grabbling, and a couple of others.

I have done it. ONCE. It hurts to grab one of those things in the face and it is not particular comforting to stick your hands into the mud and goop when you can't see what you are grabbing. This is one redneck pastime that I can take a pass on.

It is kind of fun to watch though

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Beautiful article, Varmint.

I have to admit, while it was tough for me to be an ear-witness for slaughters of chickens when I was in Malaysia (tougher when I watched them run with their throats slit), I had no compunction at all to eat the fish I caught when I had beginners luck the first time I tried. I just don't relate to fish on the same level as animals that walk on land and can scream. In rural Malaysia, you needed no license to fish with an improvised nylon line attached to a piece of driftwood, a little hook on the other end, and snail guts for bait. That fish was good, but I never caught another fish for the remaining two years I was in that village. Fishing with my neighbors was always fun, though. Talk about a real Huck Finn scene! My mother even wrote an article for Science Digest once called "Huckleberry Finn in Malaysia" or some such, about the fishing expeditions of my friends and me. Of course, I was her consultant for the article. :biggrin:

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
Has anyone heard of the apparently popular sport in Oklahama of catching giant catfish barehanded, known as "Okie Noodling" or the apparently popular documentary of the same name:

http://64.4.14.250/cgi-bin/linkrd?_lang=EN...odling%2ecom%2f

Yee-ah! We used to do the same thing when the usual summer drought would dry out the stocktanks. Holy jebus h. kee-rist, though, those fins hurt worse than mesquite thorns. Not to mention the godawful taste of the meat during drought season. It did teach me a thing or two about masking foul fish flavors with processing and spices; be glad I run a pizza joint and not a seafood restaurant :shock: .

Nam Pla moogle; Please no MacDougall! Always with the frugal...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Nice piece, Varmint. I agree that it's better to introduce children to fishing in a way that they get more out of the experience. There's a lot to be learned on lakes and in streams about nature, ecology and the cycles of life. There are a couple of very good books available on teaching children to fly fish -- one out about ten years ago by a pediatric neurologist. I reviewed it when it came out, and I'll be glad to dig out the reference if you are interested. And there is a diference between wild and farm trout. There is even a difference between stocked trout that have just been dumped in the river after dining only on Purina Trout Chow and the same fish after a couple of weeks of a little excercise working for their normal trout diet of insects. The flesh goes from being a pasty gray-white to a healthy pink and they taste better. I release all wild trout, of course, and keep only a few fish in places where they are stocked in a river regularly for the tourists. They are good baked in foil in the oven or at the campfire, with quartered lemon and fresh herbs lining the cavity.

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Reminds me of growing up in Fargo, ND. In the summers my dad would take me and my brothers fishing at Upper Cormorant Lake in Minnesota. On the drive over, he'd tease us that this time he'd decided to go to No Fish Lake instead of our usual spot. I still vividly remember the taste of the pizza that they sold from the shack on the edge of the lake. It was square, cut into a little grid, on a sheet of cardboard. Really crispy crust. We'd catch walleye, pike, and panfish. My favorite was going into the shallow areas where you could see tiny sunfish swimming around. I'd drop my line over the side and just watch them nibble.

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  • 1 month later...

Dredging up a somewhat older topic, but I just read this article and it brought back memories. My family is from western North Carolina (the far northwestern corner), and when we were little kids my grandpa would pile me, my sister and assorted cousins into the Escort (or bed of the pickup) and we'd all head across the Virgina line to a trout farm down by the South Fork of the New River. It wasn't that well stocked, so there was some waiting involved to catch a fish, but not enough so we lost interest and wanted to go home. Personally I think this is a pretty good way to introduce little kids to fishing, since as I remember that we all had pretty short attention spans when it came to standing around and waiting for something to happen. Also, this place had an outhouse, which we all remember being pretty interesting. My grandparents got indoor plumbing a couple of years before I was born, so I always felt like I missed out on the thrill of going to the outhouse, where you were scared out of your mind that a snake or spider was going to drop down from the rafters at any moment, or jump up and bite your butt. Ah, the adrenaline rush of the outhouse.

My job, once we caught the trout and got them back to papaw's farm, was to take 'em out of the cooler and bash their heads against the side of the shed to kill them. Then papaw and the boys (my daddy and uncles) would behead, scale, and debone the fish the best they could. I always watched the entire process with cold scientific fasicnation, from the moment my Uncle Stan began sharpening his knife until it was all over and the heads and guts were thrown to the barn cats. There is no way that I know of to get all of the bones out, by the way. That's why mamaw served cornbread with them. It helps get the bones down easier. Actually, mamaw has served cornbread at every meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner since I can remember, so it was going to be present on the table anyway, though it was especially important to take a piece with a (cornmeal breaded and fried) trout dinner.

My Uncle Stan tried to take his daughter stream fishing once. The poor girl weighed in at 70 pounds soaking wet and she almost drowned when her waders started filling with water. So it was back to the trout pond for us, where we could catch a few fish and use the outhouse with reckless abandon.

Gourmet Anarchy

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