Today’s post is a bit of a public service announcement for any fish enthusiasts who might be swinging through Franconia before the end of the month. Why? Well, back in November I wrote a bit about some “rules” regarding Lebkuchen, in which I also mentioned a commonly accepted rule here about the eating of carp.
Carp is an extremely popular local specialty here in Franconia, but it can only be eaten in months with an ‘r’ in the name. Reasons for that are plentiful, mostly involving the intricacies of refrigeration “in former times,”* as well as allowing the fish to grow to maturity in the summer months. Thus, if you are in Franconia and want to try some fish, hop on your bike and pedal directly to your local Gasthof, Wirtschaft, or whatever they call it in your neck of the woods because April is almost over and time is a’ticking.
I’m not a carp eater** but BV is an enthusiastic one. Thus last week when we headed across the fields for dinner, he was happy to order one and even photograph it for me, much to the amusement of the old couple sitting at the table next to us. If you order a traditional Franconian carp, you typically receive half of a fish, and it’s priced by weight (hence the flag in the picture). BV asked for a smallish one, and this is what that looks like…
Smallish indeed. And if any nutritionists out there are concerned about the sorry “side salad” on the plate, have no fear. There was an enormous bowl of salad that came along with the carp, so BV had some balance to all that fried goodness.
The a fore-mentioned fried goodness at our local restaurant comes in two varieties, basic or beer breading. Naturally BV went with the beer, and he said it was great. The carp’s tail is curled, which is a good indication of freshness. How curly the fish is can vary greatly though. He has ordered carp before that has come out of the kitchen in a U-shape, which I assume means that the fish was fried alive or something. He tried to get a picture of how curled the fish was, but it’s not really that dramatic here.
I highly recommend encouraging foreign visitors to eat carp though. The look on the face of a Costa Rican friend’s face when an enormous, curly, fried fish was brought to him one night in Nürnberg was pretty priceless.
There is one more thing I’d like to address in this post, and this was new information to me as of this weekend. When BV sent me the pictures that he took, he opened them up to show them to me again, and asked if I knew what the fried bits in the front of the fish’s head were. Usually I try to avoid eye contact with his dinner while he’s eating, so I had no idea what he was talking about until he pointed them out to me. So what are they?
Ingreisch, he said.
Okay… so no idea what that is, right? Although it does have ‘in’ in it, so perhaps something like innards? Well, yes. Innards in German are Innereien (easy enough) but when it comes to carp, the Franconians are referring to a very special section of the innards.*** This is another example of delightful local cuisine and dialect intersecting, as if you put ‘ingreisch’ into a translator, you get no help. So let me clarify.
Yes kids, those are the fish’s sexy bits. And natürlich they are very special, and not something that you get at every carp restaurant. BV speculated that this fish was a manly man fish but if he can actually see/smell/taste *shudders* a difference or was just dicking (pun intended) with me, I cannot say.
While I wholeheartedly encourage trying out the local specialties when you are in a new place, carp is something I just don’t dig. But if anyone else wants to give it a go, you enjoy! Just be warned, you may have a sexier dish than you anticipated…
™ every German ever.
**See: the post about Lebkuchen for my true feelings on this fish.
***Or offal, as Wikipedia informs me.