Growing up in Spanish Harlem was a wonderful experience! Some people may associate Harlem with the riots back in the 60’s. However, the urban culture of this place was full of life, love and good food! My childhood was far from what some may think this area should be. Poverty and drug addiction did not define my neighborhood, only love and families was and still is the front and foremost of what my neighborhood was.
One of my fondest memories of growing up in Spanish Harlem, and it was probably a tradition that was taken from the southern part of America, where my parents were born and raised. “Friday Fish Fry!” Every Friday my mom would fry up some fresh whitings that she bought from a heavy set man, that we referred to as the “Fish man!” Every Friday afternoon in the Summer time, the Fish man would fish all day, and by 3 or 4pm, in the back of his beat up station wagon, had the freshest fish for people to buy. My mom would always send me or my sister, (we were 8 or 9 years old) to buy some fresh fish. The Fish man would always gut, and scale the fish right in front of us. I use to think that that was awful to watch, however, from a culinary point of view, cleaning and scaling fish is a beautiful thing.
Watching my mom fry up the fish, and although I was a little girl, I remember my dad enjoying my momma’s cooking after a hard days work. The weekend always started out right with a Friday night fish fry.
The above picture is my take on a modern day fish fry. I added a couple of sides that not just compliments the fish, but I gave it a Spanish Harlem flavor to this southern dish! Coconut rice infused with cilantro, sweet plantains, with a soft avocado and spicy cucumbers.
I enjoyed making this dish, not only did it bring back special memories, but it also reminded of the love we shared growing up in my household.
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