April Fool’s Fish

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She says:

This Sunday is April Fool’s Day and I bet you thought we were going to talk about “foolish food” like pigs in a blanket or mud pie (both favourites of mine, by the way)… I thought perhaps instead we would try to instill a bit of serious culture and give you a French recipe that celebrates the day.

I am hoping that the spirit of spring will have you feeling adventurous, and that you will be willing to try something that is quite outside the box. Perhaps if I tell you the story of how I came about the recipe it will put you more at ease…

Years ago when I spent some time living in France, I made some wonderful friends who were great foodies and luckily for me they were looking for another to join their little enclave. We would spend our weeks planning the weekend meals. The weekends were spent shopping at the markets and then cooking until late and eating it all until the wee hours.

The year I was there, Easter was early and as luck would have it, Good Friday fell on an April 1st. As you may know, Friday was long considered a fasting day and in religious history that meant not eating meat (which was a luxury item). Thus was created the term “fish Fridays” which was still a widespread custom when I was in France. With Good Friday being at the end of Lent it was very important to observe this custom and so the Easter weekend festivities commenced with a fish dish.

There is also a custom in France relating to April Fool’s, and interestingly enough, it involves fish as well. Legend has it that April Fool’s Day began when King Charles IX decided the year should start on January 1 and not April 1. Those who disagreed with the idea then became the brunt of pranks when New Year’s celebrations and gifts were offered in jest in future years. France was apparently the first country to adopt this new system, and a joke that became common was to give a dead fish to friends (funny, don’t you think? Well, there is no accounting for some people’s humour…) Apparently this was either due to the fact that the sun was leaving the sign of Pisces, the fish, or perhaps because in the spring a fish that got caught was young and likely foolish enough to get caught. Nowadays, school children simply place a paper fish on the back of friends, and when it is discovered they shout out, “poisson d’avril” to ensure the victim is suitably embarrassed.

This recipe is not meant to be a joke, but rather a pleasant surprise, as it is quite tasty. I hope you enjoy it.

Poisson d’avril (April Fool’s Fish)

4 fish fillets (approx 1 kg) – use haddock, sole, cod, perch or similar white fish
6 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
6 tbsp lukewarm water
juice of 1 lemon (approx 2 tbsp)
¼ tsp ground pepper
Pinch of coriander
½ tsp salt
5 cloves garlic
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Prepare the sauce in a small bowl:
Mix together the tahini and lemon juice with a fork or whish, then dilute gradually with the water. Add the herbs and spices and mix well. Set aside for at least 30 minutes. (Sauce may be prepared up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated.)

Lightly brush a large baking dish with a vegetable or olive oil. (Dish must be large enough to accommodate fillets in a single layer.) Place the fillets in the pan and cover with sauce. Sprinkle walnuts over top.

Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake in oven for approximately 30 minutes or until fish easily flakes apart and sauce is bubbling.

Serve with rice or panfried potatoes and fresh spring vegetables.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

He says:

Being a chef and having worked around fish everyday, I have seen some great pranks for April Fool’s Day. One time I had new cook working for me going on his day off on April Fool’s Day, so we put a fish head in his tool box before he locked it for his days off. He came back from his days off and could not figure out why his box smelled so bad. So after a cleaning his box he finally figured out that he had now been made part of the team.

I once did fill up some nice vintage empty wine bottles with grape juice. I re-sealed it very nicely like they were brand new. I gave them to a few friends on April Fool’s Day and waited. It took a few weeks before the comments started to come back to me. One friend said “You know, that bottle of wine you gave me a while back, it was good, but very sweet.”

Anyway, you still have a week, so start planning because this is the only day where you are allowed to play with someone else’s food!

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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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