Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Filet-O-Fish Virgin

In junior high my best friend gave up watching “Simpsons” for the entire Catholic season of Lent. Translate this to 12-year-old speak and you get “Michael, for the entire month we will have nothing to talk about.” In addition to cartoon shows he was also restricted from eating meat on Friday’s, which had me even happier to be a non-Kosher keeping Jew.

Hot on the heels of religious tradition fast food chains took note and jumped into action. Taco Bell is the most popular with just about every other burger flipping fast food chain—from Arby’s to Sonic’s—following in line. However the grand fried filet of them would have to be the Filet-O-Fish sandwich at Mcdonald’s. It’s always been there hidden between more notable offerings just waiting until this time of year to take center stage. I’ve always known it was there but it didn’t interest me, until today. After all these years I just had to know what a “Filet-O-Fish” experience would be like. Call it masochism or morbid curiosity—or even just the fact that it was now seasonally discounted—but on this dreary day I walked over to a local McDonald’s thinking that by walking I was doing this the “healthy” way.

Filet-O-Fish Sign

Standing outside McDonald’s starring at an oversized image of what I was about to eat—a Filet-O-Fish overflowing with waves of tartar sauce and unnecessary cheese—made me queasy.

Seriously if the folks over at Tum’s are thinking of a way to push more product just steal this poster and replace all the text with the word “TUM’S.” Tartar sauce is for dipping not for slathering, and melted cheese on fried fish rubs me the wrong way.

At the register the cashier took my order and handed over fate in a pale blue box. In hand I oddly missed being able to unwrap a sandwich from McDonald’s. There was always something about the wrapping process and the crinkling sound of paper to reveal your burger that felt special. It was like unwrapping a present made just for me. Though I’m sure at McDonald’s this “present” was intended for anyone crazy enough to ask for it.

Filet O Fish BoxFilet O Fish Box Open

Sitting down I opened the box slowly. There it sat looking pathetic. A fish filet careless tossed on a bun, a puff of tartar sauce seeping out of one side, and no cheese was anywhere to be seen. I lifted the top and saw only what reminded me of baby vomit. Had they forgotten the cheese? Lifting the bun I found it; a half slice over-melted to the point of crustiness. What gives McDonald’s? Too cheap to give me a whole slice?

Filet O Fish Sauce

Why I continued to lift it and eat it I have no idea. I had to pretend I was about to eat a tasty éclair to fool myself into doing so.

The entire sandwich from top to bottom tasted awful. The bun was generically boring, the tartar sauce was mostly relish and mayo, the cheese was absolutely flavorless, and the fish was cold and tasted faintly like fried cardboard. If the container hadn’t remained on the table I probably would have thought I accidentally picked that up and ate it.

I poked at the rest of the sandwich, wiped off most of the tartar sauce, left half the bun in the box, and just ate the fish for protein. Then I went home and made dinner to wash away the growing sway of seasickness.

For years I’ve wondered how the Filet-O-Fish tasted and now I know; like the box. Can I interest you in some TUM’S?

(Various Locations)


sku said...

Though I haven't had one in years, I have fond memories of the Fillet-O-Fish. I'm sure it had to be something you grew up with.

Mike said...

I've been told similarly that had I grown up with it, I would like it.

I don't know if I want to be party to a food I had to grow up eating in order to find it easy to stomach.

PulledPorker said...

Have you seen Wienerschnitzel's "Sea Dog" they have for Lent? It does not look pretty.

I tried the Wendy's "Premium Fish Sandwich" a couple weeks ago. It wasn't great but it was better than I expected.

Aaron said...

Haha, you know my love for McDonald's. Quite surprised that this was your first Filet-o-Fish. As with most McDonald's classic products, I'm under the impression that you need to start eating it from childhood in order to appreciate it now

Leolina said...

Hey Mike! Just discovered your blog and am lovin it! I just moved to the valley and was wondering if you could reccomend a good pizza place somewhere around woodland hills? Thanks! :)

Mike said...

If you're looking for something "family friendly" and a bit more deep dish try THE PIZZA COOKERY on Topanga Blvd.

If you're looking for something "quitchy and NY" go to RED BALLS PIZZA just up the road from that on Topanga.

I hope that helps!

jess said...

hahaha wow, your pictures even make a fillet o fish look delicious. although your description is right. when i was little, i was in love with those things. and then as i got older and ventured out to try some REAL "fillet o fishes..."

you should definitely submit some of your photos to it's a visual restaurant review site with a template similar to that of tastespotting

inland empire restaurant and food reviews said...

Come Back!

Anonymous said...

What do you expect for the price you are paying? Some poor kid in Africa would have been grateful for that sandwich.