I got smelt in Underhill Friday night and I’ve been chuckling about it ever since.
A sleepy little town on a quiet curve of the Oconto River most of the year, Underhill comes alive during the annual smelt fry, a fundraiser for the Town of Underhill Fire Department that attracts smelt enthusiasts from all over Northeastern Wisconsin.
Though they look like bait to me, smelt are actually a very healthy, tiny little fish, full of those good Omega 3 fats you read so much about.
In Underhill, they serve them dusted with flour and deep fried. For $10, you get a plate full of all-you-can-eat smelt, homemade potato salad, coleslaw, tartar sauce, baked beans, pickles and cheese curds.
A veteran told me smelt tasted like deep fried salmon, so I gave it a whirl.
Turns out that veteran was wrong and I probably won’t be tasting smelt again.
But, everyone else genuinely loved the food. People of all ages filled the tables, and lines snaked around the inside of the fire station and out the door.
Lucky paddle raffle winners also took home frozen meat, fresh cheese and gift cards to local businesses. With lucky number eight, I won a T-shirt that made me laugh, but which I’ll never wear in public, and a $20 gift card to the local nursery.
Though I’m not a huge fan of smelt, I did love the Underhill Smelt fry. It celebrated all of Wisconsin’s greatest resources — fish, cheese, meat, beer, and friendly people.
Best of all, it raised funds for the volunteer fire department.
Thank you to the Town of Underhill Fire Department, for the annual hospitality and the year-round dedication.
May God bless you all.
Downtown Underhill was hopping during the annual Smelt Fry Friday night.
Most of the guys in this group have been going to the Smelt Fry for 20 years or more. Vince began tagging along a few years ago.
The line for food stretched outside the door and across the parking lot when we arrived.
Inside, the tables were crammed with people.
The event appealed the people of all ages.
The fire fighters and their families took care of the cooking.
It’s hard work, but they all seemed to be having a great time.
Fire fighters are a social bunch.
I took this picture for two reasons: 1) I thought it was charming that some little person had thought to class up the joint with the first dandelion bouquet of the season. 2) Look how clean those plates are! People love smelt.
Here’s what a tub of fried smelt looks like. I thought they looked a little like deep fried zucchini.
A typical smelt fry plate, minus the cheese curds.
Firefighters’ spouses pitched in as well.
I scored big in the paddle raffle, thanks to the number 8, my mother in-law’s favorite number.
Vince and I got smelt in Underhill. He enjoyed the cuisine, I enjoyed the company.
Thanks for the hospitality, Underhill Fire Department, and may God bless you and your fellow fire fighters.