‘This is our town, this is Friday night
Dressed in our rags and our rage and our best
Piercing eyes looking for something – anything, anyone.
Stare across the floor as they begin to dance….’
The lyrics from that New Model Army song run through my head as I recall fond memories of a pivotal point in my culinary path.
What was going to be a ‘Throwback Thursday’ post is actually more suited towards Friday this week.
Remember when Friday nights were the sh**? I mean like Friday night would just be party time, throw it all against the wall, stay out till 2 (or later..) in the morning, and spend the rest of the weekend into the next week talking about it (and, of course, recovering). For most of us, the nostalgia of Friday night with the boys (or girls) is something we always carry with us. Ha, perhaps even when we have kids and Friday night is no different than Monday night or we just grow older- secretly in the back of our mind we recall the Friday nights of our youth with great enjoyment and a surge of energy.
When I first started working in food retail in my mid 20’s, I created a fresh fish buying program for my local land-locked community and prided myself on the ultra fresh and stunningly beautiful ocean delights that my little landlubber town just never really saw outside of a restaurant. Oysters, Lemon Sole, Tasmanian Sea Trout, Maine Smelt that ‘smelt’ of fresh cucumbers, Uni, and Wolffish were a few of the many varieties of seafood I was bringing in through a popular word of mouth preorder seafood program every Friday.
Inevitably, I would order a little extra of each to assure every one of my customers got the absolute best product and no tail pieces of fillet. What to do with these extra ocean gems?? Friday night pregame??
The idea at first sounded crazy- Bring anywhere from 5-8 different odds and ends of amazing seafood to a friend’s remote cabin to host a sort of ‘underground restaurant’ for my skater, punk, PBR aficionado and marijuana enthusiast friends. I mean, would they really appreciate the delicate and exotic fishes like I did or were they set with the pizza or Chinese food before hitting the bars or clubs?
Well, the first Friday I brought over my assortment of treats, I sent everyone in a complete state of shock and awe with standing ovations and requests for encore performances. ‘Fish Friday’s became a thing. There was a text roll, people were telling their friends and before I knew it the little ‘pregame dinner party’ turned into a 25-30 person tasting menu/ fish jam session. With riffs like raw oysters and uni, Tasmanian Sea Trout Tartare, Skate Provencal, Fluke en Papillote, and Bouillabaisse, not only was I learning and teaching my friends to shuck oysters, but I was having one of the best times of my life in the the process. I mean, think about eating a dozen of the freshest and crispest Oysters at a rock concert…It doesn’t seem like they belong together but when they are there and done right, it blew people away.
I say this was a pivotal point in my food path and passion because these friend dinners opened up my creativity in a stress-free and familiar setting and showed me that people don’t just enjoy good food but also love the show and the story of it.
We hosted about 20 ‘Fish Fridays’ over the course of that year and I’m still asked by some of the members if I’ll ever do it again just like the good old times….well who knows.. One thing is for sure though, Friday nights still rock, even if its just in your memories and heart…