When I walked into the Canonsburg borough building Friday afternoon, one of my favorite people was debating what to have for dinner. All she knew is that her new diet required her to eat an obscene amount of chicken. So that was off the table.
I quickly offered an easy solution: Why don’t you get take out from a fish fry?
And of course, I promptly gave her the scoop: My friend and co-writer, Candy, and I were headed to a Bethel Park church to check out a fish fry where one of our friends was volunteering.
As it turns out, even the quick-and-easy nature of a Lenten fish fry is too complicated for some of the weirdness life throws you at 3:13 p.m. on a Friday. Namely: A busy news day, two sick kids and one missing grandma.
By the time Candy’s grams was located and my writing and editing duties were done for the day, it was well past closing time for any of the venues peddling fish fry favorites.
But we couldn’t NOT give you at least SOME dish on fish. After all, that’s what we promised you.
So today, we admit: Sometimes fast food happens.
Unfortunately, I was assigned to enjoy a Filet o’ Fish sandwich from McDonald’s. It was exactly the same as every other Filet o’ Fish sandwich in the history of Filet o’ Fish sandwiches.
Really, isn’t that why we ever eat at McDonald’s? It isn’t because of its distinct flavors—and it’s not about the quality of the food. I mean, we’re talking about fish that’s pieced together and served in an unnatural square shape, covered with a generic piece of cheese and slathered with tartar sauce.
But it works. It works because it’s familiar and because it’s consistent—even if it’s never preferable to say, the fare at St. Pat’s.
That said, we’ll be back in action Friday—taking on a fish fry we’ve been assured is worth the drive.
After 15 years worth of suffering through meals with her, I didn’t think I’d miss a night away from dishing on fish with Amanda.
We talk in one day more than some should in a lifetime, and I expected to enjoy a reprieve from the philosophical questions she often asks at inopportune times: I’m pretty sure she once asked me—while I was in labor—why someone would ever consider pink and red to be a good color combination.
Our friendship, with its adequate share of arguments and loyalty, has been described by local writers as the Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of communication because we’re both loud, crazy and totally unapologetic for it.
But as I opened the wrapper of a Wendy’s fish sandwich last night, I realized we’re a lot more like Ike and Tina Turner (even though Amanda has the market on Keith’s hair accessories and I can move frighteningly similar to Mick). Not only would Laurence Fishburne accurately play Amanda in a movie, but, much like my girl Tina, I seemingly do everything in heels.
Yet, what really captures us as the Ike and Tina of communication is Tina’s monologue at the beginning of the Turners’ version of “Proud Mary.” She explains that “every now and then,” the audience might like to hear something from them “nice and easy.” She also concedes they don’t do anything “nice and easy.” Instead they do everything “nice and rough.”
Such is the case with us.
I’m sure local Catholic churches and an Italian Club in Muse are still assessing the trail of damage we left behind after we attended recent fish fries in northern Washington County. Whether that damage was broken furniture, broken spirits or unpleasant dinner conversation, I‘m sure we left our mark.
So when two-thirds of my children were sick yesterday (the third was recovering from strep throat) and a grandmother went missing, we took the opportunity to get takeout: This week’s fish was sampled at Wendy’s and McDonald’s—the fast fish.
The closest Wendy’s to my house is next to an L.A. Fitness, so I’m always calorie conscious when I go there. I ordered the fish sandwich and a side salad. When I got home, I removed the bun and ate the fish with a fork, adding oil and vinegar to the salad.
The fish was crispy and paper towels revealed that it wasn’t very greasy. It was tasty enough for takeout, but I quickly learned we had been spoiled by both the company and chefs in the Canon-Mac area.
To anyone looking for a quick, appetizing, Friday fish, I’d recommend Wendy’s.
But for those looking for good conversation, tradition, the charm of church ladies and those salt-of-the-earth folks who stop you on Main Street just to ask how you’re doing, you’ll have to look further than fast food.
This week’s fast fish taught me that the best garnish isn’t tartar or cocktail sauce. It’s good conversation—the kind that can only really be shared after you’ve known someone half your life.
So we’ll be back in Northern Washington County together next week, dishing on fish, praying to proud Mary that we’re being “nice and easy,” or (at the very least) nice.