Herrings

IMG_0377 Herrings from Scandinavia

Please consider during these difficult times of  smoke and fire, brimstones and calamitous weather conditions, the eating of a simple herring. I know that lots of people’s lives have been upset and thrown about because of those raging fires and acrid smoke. Things are now quiet again and in some parts of Australia even a few drops of water have been recorded; time to repose and regain our momentum for the ongoing battle we might call ‘life’.

This is where the herring comes onto its own giving us the sustenance and tools to struggle on. Of course, coming from Holland I was practically brought up on a bicycle and fed daily herrings. My father told me when I was still very young (and during a stormy night) that I was born a week or two before my mother was due to eject me. It was, he told conspiratorially, that a fish bone stuck in my mother’s throat that brought on a coughing fit, et voila, there I was born of my mother’s gluttonous herring eating and I already screaming  for one myself. The doctor smacked my mother instead of me.

There are some interesting facts about herrings. Herrings generally spawn in shallows and coastal waters where they lay in levels on top of each other, millions of them. The female herring lays up to 70 000 eggs. So, herring experts inform us, which if it wasn’t for humans to catch and eat the herring and left to breed uninterrupted, they would within a short time and according to Buffon’s  calculations, produce a volume of fish twenty times the size of the earth. It would be easy to understand that that sort of volume would also mean the end of the herring mating and cavorting in the shallows. They would suffer their own demise by those tumultuous watery sexual congress without humans eating them.( post coitus)

Image result for The Dutch herring boats

Even so, in the past there have been such large shoals of herrings and so easily caught that entire fisheries were threatened by closure because of the sheer catastrophic glut of herrings. This is also why we should not forego eating herrings, especially now during stress and deep-seated gloom. A herring lightens the mood and give us the spring back in out steps. Try it, please.

The expert fishing trawlers and their skippers knew, born of legend and evening tavern talk, when the shoals of herrings were running.  They knew by the glow of their shimmering bodies and the fact they swim in strict wedge shaped formations with a pulsating glow skywards reflecting the sun falling at a certain angle. The fishermen, all peaked capped and storm coat wearing threw out their nets and lowered their sails.

Of course we don’t truly know what a herring feels. They communicate not like we do but no doubt been told that we eat them. Not a nice thing to contemplate when as young herring in puberty and growing, looking forward to an honest mating in the shallows of the Dogger Bank…only to be eaten afterwards!  When life has fled, the herring begins to glow and that’s also a reason why people buy them. They hold a fascination that other fish, like the mackerel or flat-head species don’t have.

Image result for The Dutch herring boats

Queuing for herrings in The Netherlands.

A pity that one cannot buy a fresh herring here in the southern hemisphere. The bottled or vacuum packet ones are  not the same but I intend to go to Holland (The Netherlands now, sorry)soon to catch up.

You just wait and see!

Some of this information came from ‘The rings of Saturn’ by W.G. Sebald.

 

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29 Responses to “Herrings”

  1. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Well for one thing herring have been declared good for the body. I don’t know about the soul. From what I read, any oily type fish is good for the heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, any oily fish is good for the body and perhaps the soul. But, rest assured that no matter how much oily fish Trump would eat, no fish would save his soul.
      Is he trying to start WW3 with the callous murder of the Iranian general?

      Liked by 1 person

      • petspeopleandlife Says:

        Many people fear that WW3 is going to happen. He is crazed and reckless and has a superiority complex. He only thinks of himself.

        Like

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        America has been involved in two WWs but has never itself been subjected to invasions whereby its cities were bombed and millions of citizens killed. It has always portrayed itself as being war heroes coming to the aids of others, but… victims of wars are always cautious but not so and much less so the US, and especially not Trump, a swashbuckling war monger.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Dora Jahnes Says:

    20 years ago the woolworths in Morningside Brisbane had a herring bar. The herrings were flown in fresh by KLM.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Oh, that would have been wonderful, Dora. Trust KLM to fly in fresh raw herrings. The herrings in that glass jar above is the best I can get.

      I know, I know, no Dutchman on his bike would lower himself to eat those type of herrings but that is the best I can get.

      Compromise to a certain degree, but there has to be a limit. I mean Helvi ended up eating ‘meat pies’! Can you believe it?I

      Like

  3. berlioz1935 Says:

    We ate a lot of Herring and other fish when I was a child. I never liked Herring. We ate the roe of the female and the sperm of the male too. It was all so salty and we had to dring a lot of water. Now I like all sorts of prepared Herring. The is always a great selection at Aldi and other defies.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    I’ve never eaten a herring, but I grew up eating fish and we still eat a lot of fish and seafood. I shall google where I could find herring and try it. Living on the west coast in CA…having fresh fish and seafood is the best! Plus in my family there were always fishermen, so we had fresh fish that way, too.
    Thank you for sharing memories (especially about your birth) and facts about herring!
    I hope you will share photos and stories from The Netherlands when you travel there. My great-grandmother was born and raised in the Netherlands (Holland). 🙂
    HUGS to you!!!
    PATS and RUBS to Milo!!!
    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Ah well, never having eating a herring. It reminds me many years ago, on a trip to Holland and entering the fish shop in Nijverdal, asking for a few raw herrings. As the fishmonger packed them, I told him I had not eaten a herring for many years as I was from Australia where fresh herring are unobtainable.

      He looked me over and said; ‘ I thought you looked like a man who hasn’t eaten herrings for a long time. You look a bit anaemic. It was so funny but it has some truths. Herrings are considered very good nutritious food.

      Of course eating fish especially oily fish is heart food. Glad you eat a lot of fish. Of course most fish ordered in Fish & Chip shops are from frozen stock with hardly any food value.

      Hugs to you too, Carolyn, and Cooper.

      Liked by 1 person

      • doesitevenmatter3 Says:

        I like the story of the man saying you looked a bit anemic from lack of herring. That is cute! 😀
        My Dad loved sardines, etc., but I don’t know if he ever ate herring.
        🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Sardines are small herrings aren’t they? I am not sure. In any case they are the best next to herrings. Sadly, some people go through life never having eaten a herring. People, even on their death bed should still be offered a herring, and repent.. A kind of last rite.

        Like

  5. freefall852 Says:

    Rollmops………nah…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Rollmops are eaten overseas when fresh raw herrings are not obtainable. They are marinated with salt and vinegar and different spices. It is better than nothing but not really considered by conservative Dutchman to be a ‘real’ herring.

      Like

  6. Julia Lund Says:

    I can’t claim to be a flesh-eating lover – the odd bit of salmon and every few years a bit of trout, perhaps. I blame it on being presented as a child with a playful of some unspecified fish by my aunt. It was complete, bones, skin, eyes and all and I cannot contemplate fish without that image haunting me. Even the smell makes me want to run for the hills, and I am no runner …

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Oh, Julia, I can well imagine the horror in your childhood being presented with fish in that manner. It leaves life-long scarring and I too know people that are turned off fish. They go for meat. Fresh fish doesn’t smell. If anything it has a sweetish smell.
      A red herring is a saying invented by people who have been damaged by bad introduction to seafood.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Julia Lund Says:

        I have a super sensitive sense of smell (which drives my husband mad!!!). At least I have one superpower, though …

        Like

  7. photofinlandrantasalot.wordpress.com Says:

    You have a nice text of the thoughts of a young herring. We Finns are herring eaters. We have fish called silakka, Baltic herring, and that is sold fresh. We fry it on a frying pan like a a steak, two together.
    The fires there are here in every news. I feel bad for all those animals burnt alive there.
    Thank you for a very interesting post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, I know the Finnish herring as I used to eat them when I was living in Voltti, Alaharma, back a long time ago when I married Helvi. Her mother used to make them. A lovely time on the Finnish farm with all her brothers and sisters. Unforgettable.
      Welcome to my blog. I enjoy your blog as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • photofinlandrantasalot.wordpress.com Says:

        You know Finland well. Where did you meet Helvi? You are Australian and she was Finnish, must be an interesting story.
        That Alahärmä area, as the whole Pohjanmaa is very beautiful, I like the feeling to be able to see almost at the end of the world.

        Like

  8. rangewriter Says:

    Ok. I see I need to venture forth and giving herrings a try. I’ve had kippered herrings from a tin. I’m not even sure what that is. I guess pickled? I wonder about the saying the warns about “red herrings.” Have you ever heard that? Do you know it’s origin?

    Your own origin story is a hoot! Thanks for sharing that with us. It made my morning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, I too had kippers some many years ago in England. Believe it or not, some have kippers for breakfast on toast. The kippers I had were smoked somewhere on the East coast of England.

      Raw herrings are of course treated with salt to preserve them for a while. The ones you buy in glass jars are preserved forever. Eating a herring like they do in Holland is a ritual steeped in history going back hundreds of years.

      One takes the tail and hold the complete herring up to the sky and slowly, with head tilted back eyes closed, allow the herring body but sans head, to glide into the mouth and slowly ever so slowly allow it to , by force of gravity, lower itself down and down into the tilted throat towards its final journey towards the stomach.

      It’s beautiful to watch.

      Like

      • rangewriter Says:

        Haha, I’m not sure that process would be a beautiful thing to watch if it were my gullet the headless herring body were poised to drop into! But, I’d sure give it a try.

        Like

  9. leggypeggy Says:

    I love herrings. Will buy some tomorrow.

    Like

  10. shoreacres Says:

    Your second paragraph about your coming into the world made me laugh aloud, particularly that detail about the doctor smacking your mother rather than your bottom.

    I love herring. I’ve never had one fresh, but pickled herring was a staple during my own young years; the Julbord featured them, of course, but also any festive occasion — like Saturday evening suppers of bread, cheese, and herring. They were so much a part of our Christmas festivities that I always know when the holiday is coming; I’m suddenly overcome by an urge for pickled herring, and off to the store I go. Some prefer it in cream sauce, but I like the good filets in wine sauce, with capers and onion. There are a couple of brands that are available here year round, although they can be hard to find.

    Your description of the fish in the shoals reminds me of a small fish we call glass minnows. They’re a bait fish, and only a couple of inches long, but when they’re schooling, they’ll flip out of the water in great masses, and it sounds as though it’s raining. That’s one of the sounds I enjoyed hearing from my old apartment. When the season comes again, I’ll have to walk over to the water at night to listen to them.

    I see in your forecast there’s rain mentioned, and for several days in a row. I hope it does come; the refreshment for people’s spirits probably would equal what the water does for the land.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, most of my friends are herring lovers. When we get together sooner or later the conversations travels towards herrings. The good old days back in Holland when herring market stalls were all over the place often combined selling hot croquettes.

      Before migrating to Australia, I left school and worked for a while delivering flowers and fruit to the different embassies that were all over The Hague and from tips (especially the US embassy) bought herrings and on cold days hot croquettes as well. Memories might well portray those events as way over the top of the realities of the time, even so, I fondly remember them so vividly now.

      Today the nation is on alert again as heat and wind might again wake up fires and people are told to leave and get away from any fire-zones.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. shoreacres Says:

    I just read the article in the Sydney Morning Herald about the fund-raiser at the Opera House. I love the thought of them projecting photos onto the sails; the article shows one of the photos that’s going to be used.

    Like

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