Note to Self, 4 a.m.
The word "fish" on a restaurant menu in Washington DC does not mean what it means on the West Coast. Fish on the West Coast is fish without batter.
I am not in the West but the South, where fish is smushed into a sort of paste coated (to put it mildly) in batter and deep fried in what I fear, at time of writing, might be recycled synthetic motor oil.
I had "fish tacos" for dinner at the neighborhood hipster bar with my friend J. Fish tacos! What do you think of when you hear that phrase, my West Coastians? Do you think of little chopped up bits of fish-flavored deep-fried salty crunchy and chewy spicy tasty mysteriousness with something that seems to be a sort of muffaletta sauce poured all over it? Delicious, but so, so wrong.
I mean, there I was in the hipster bar, not one of the "carryout" places (e.g., Chinese, Mexican, chicken, subs, all behind the one counter) with the tile walls that remind me of nothing so much as a Greyhound station restroom, and the plexiglas barricade and the phone cards and the miscellaneous this and thats people might need at 1 a.m., while they satisfy their craving for fried fish with fries and extra friediness plus a side of grease. And I was suddenly down South, under the rule of "what can't be deep fried probably isn't worth eating."
Update: Later the same day I go to Eastern Market on the pretext of buying peaches for the Holy Angels, but also because I hear they have a good lunch counter. And I can tell they do, there are people lined up. I look at the menu and it has two or three kinds of fish plus shrimp and oysters and crab cakes. Platters, combos, sandwiches. People are eating it up. In my mind I'm running down the list of items saying "Fried. Deep fried. In batter." I don't know why more people aren't dropping dead right in the streets from it, honestly.