Cars were packed 50 deep for the fish fry hosted by the Brookfield Masons last Saturday. “Back in the beginning, we all drove down to Rye, New Hampshire, and went deep sea fishing for the haddock,” remembered Guy Waldo this week. A few others in the Lodge still help out with the feast four decades later: “Steve Allen and Lee Deyette were there at the outset, and Roger Palmer too, or very soon after,” Waldo said.
The meal is as perfect as anyone could hope for. That’s why ticket holders have waited patiently in line up to two hours in years past. (This year, probably as a result of improved Fryolators, the wait was about 20 minutes.)
“I can’t remember anyone ever complaining; once seated you will be served all you can eat,” says Waldo.
The food’s quality is legendary. Now, the fresh haddock, 350 pounds of it, is brought in from the coast by Ray’s Seafood up in Essex. With a light flour and cornmeal dredge (the recipe is a secret), it’s cooked to golden brown perfection. Moist and firm, the filets flake at the slightest touch of the fork. Delicious.
Up second in the lineup are platters of fries as good as you’ll find anywhere. What’s the secret? Throughout the meal, Bruce Ladd hauls 50-pound bags of chef grade potatoes to Gary Jarvis in the kitchen out behind the lodge.
One moment these spuds are sitting in the bag, then, in a span of about 15 seconds they are passed through a commercial slicer and lowered into hot oil.
But the meal’s not over with fish and fries: add in ample helpings of fresh cole slaw, dinner rolls, plenty of ketchup and tartar sauce, steaming cups of coffee, cold lemonade, water, and milk. All of this is brought to your table by cheerful young Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.
The whole affair is topped off with a bowl full of vanilla ice cream, crowned by Roger Palmer’s maple syrup.
No one is quite sure what year the fish fry started, but everyone agrees it’s been more than 40 years running. If you missed this year’s, don’t worry. This tradition isn’t going away any time soon