Where There’s Fish, There’s Tartar Sauce

Many of you probably saw this photo on Lynn’s Weigh on Facebook: pickled herring at a salad bar. Only in Minnesota. And apparently Wisconsin. And maybe even North Dakota, but that hasn’t been verified yet.

I love herring. Grew up eating it out of the jar, same way I slugged orange juice from the container with the fridge door open. Of course at the herring salad bar last week, being the good Norwegian vegetarian I am, I put together a salad sans fish. The dressings weren’t marked, so I put a few that I recognized – or thought I recognized – on a plate to dip my salad in.

I walked back to the table, where my brother was cutting into an egg (over-easy). It was the first day he’d been hungry in weeks due to an adverse reaction to an anti-seizure drug. He’d developed every side effect known including mood swings and lack of appetite – two things Minnesota Norwegians are not known for. So the whole wheat toast, sausage and hash browns that lined the periphery of his plate didn’t bother me one bit. The man is 6’1, weighs 150 pounds, and hasn’t enjoyed a bite of food since his 12-hour brain beating in late June. He’d earned some food love.
Uncle Bonehead with our niece Michaela
I dived into my salad, dipping forkfuls into a little of this dressing, a little of that dressing, a little of…what the…? 

“Oh my gosh,” I exclaimed in my reacquired Minnesota accent. “That’s tartar sauce!”

Marty looked up from his plate and, without missing a beat, said, “What did you expect? Where there’s fish, there’s tartar sauce.”

Since arriving a week ago, I’ve felt a little like herring at a salad bar. Something not expected, but when you look at it in its context (Minnesota = herring), it makes sense.

Recently I’ve been struggling with a changing body and changing metabolism; gaining a bit of weight and not working out like I want to because of physical issues. The “salad bar” that is my maintenance got thrown a big old herring last week when I flew out to Minnesota to help take care of my brother. It’s not that I can’t eat healthy on the go. I’m the queen of eating healthy. But that herring – my Achilles Heel – is that when I get stressed and totally focused, I tend to eat haphazardly or not understand or care how something’s prepared, and…holy crapola…I consume the white flour. I wake up every morning with the intention of eating clean, but sometimes I end the day wondering what the hell I ate.

But where there’s fish, there’s tartar sauce. And today, that surprising “dip of the salad” was a bike ride through the hidden places behind tree-lined neighborhoods and out of sight from the freeways I’ve driven a million times.

My brother is (not at the moment, but will be again) an avid biker. He has a kickass hybrid, and its just the right size to accommodate my long legs. He brought it out for me and made sure the air pressure was right. The seat was a piece of heaven on my butt, and the grippers on his pedals are what I’ll be asking for when my birthday rolls around in a few weeks. I started out on the Cedar Lake Trail and ran into a whole lot of others. Marty doesn’t have an odometer on his bike, so I don’t know how far I went, but it took me 70 minutes to do it. It was the best bike ride of my life.

I saw this:

And this:

 And this:

And I rode underneath the walkway to Target Field, where I was yesterday on the comfy club level, thanks to tix from a very nice boss 🙂

Yesterday at Target Field on a much needed break with my awesomely cool sister-in-law:

This has been a challenging week for me, no doubt. But it’s way more challenging, of course, for Marty. He’s been thrown a herring the size of a Volkswagen, and those of us involved with his care are trying…trying…to find him some tartar sauce. Strange analogy, I know. But we’re Minnesotans. We get it, don’t ya know? Yah…I’m sure you do, eh.
Thank you so much for keeping Marty in your thoughts. Seeing him cry is killer. Killer. Marty’s a good guy who just needs a break and a whole lot of time to heal. We’re all just praying his brain cooperates.

8 thoughts on “Where There’s Fish, There’s Tartar Sauce

  1. Hey Lynn, Thanks for updating us. And thanks for sharing this part of your life with us. I am keeping Marty and you in my prayers. Our brains are amazing things. It takes a long time (longer for adults than babies) but the brain truly can heal and recover. I have seen some miraculous recoveries.

    Sounds like you are wisely taking some 'you-time.' You need that in order to give Marty the best possible care.

  2. Sounds like you're becoming reacquainted with our Minnesota culture (and food). Yes, tartar sauce is everywhere. (I love it, but it no longer agrees with my digestion.)

    My thoughts and best wishes to your brother. Like Debby, I have also seen wonderful healing and recovery (namely in a family member). Take care of yourself and enjoy your time in Minnesota–yeah, sure.

  3. Not being a fish person, seeing that herring at the salad bar would have put the ixnay on the entire thing for me…but I love your analogy – you sure have a way with words!

    Glad you got a good bike ride in. Whatever you can do to maintain your sense of “normal” during this so-not-normal time is excellent. Continued good thoughts toward Marty's recovery. Take care, the both of yas!

  4. Being Jewish myself, pickled herring is just one of the most wonderful things I could possibly imagine to eat. I assume that the tartar sauce does NOT go with the pickled herring. That's blasphemy, as far as I'm concerned.

    Do you Minnesotans say “eh” a lot? Could it be that you're actually Canadians who took a wrong turn somewhere around Winnipeg? Eh, watcha think?

    Hope your brother's doing well. He seems like a great guy.

    Take care of yourself too.

  5. Sounds like you are making the best of your family time and Lynn life balance that is …at the end of the day the most anyone can hope for in a day. My continued best to Marty's recovery.

  6. Lynn:
    Your post reminded me of my childhood trips to an authentic Swedish smorgassbord that served pickled herring–in California, no less. I was a weird kid and loved the stuff!

    Thanks for sharing about your visit with Marty. Sounds like you have a sweet family that has weathered a lot of storms together. Glad you're there for him now!

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