Can you feel the dread coming?
Now is the winter of our discontent.
Before all the English majors and autodidacts among you point it out, I know that by "winter" Shakespeare was signaling an end of something, in this case "discontent." Here I definitely am signaling the beginning, or at least recognizing the creeping tendrils of a beginning of something but it just happens to be Winter. So, I figured I could shoehorn it in. I suppose "Now is the first sign of spring of the literal Winter of our discontent," would be more precise but it's a bit clunky.
The regular season is over.
When I was a kid, Summer vacation lasted from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Sometime in early to mid August, a pall would come over my neighborhood. Despite the fact that there were still weeks of days without school before us, the nuns were waiting, and the kids knew it. Each sunset brought us a step closer to homework, spelling tests, fractions, and long division. Each sunset marked one less football game, bicycle joust, or cap gun war.
We have, at best two Alabama games left. And then...
I miss the Big East. Almost every team in that conference could be reliably counted on to go 7-5 every year, give or take a game or two, and since none of them, with the exception of West Virginia and the occasional Louisville team, was in the least bit interesting I never watched them. Until Spring.
ESPN Classic would rerun a pretty broad spectrum of college football in the offseason, but as an avid fan, I generally knew the outcome of most given games. Not so the Big East. No one without ties to any of the member institutions knew a thing about how that league played out. That made them perfect DVR fodder.
It wasn't the real deal, but Syracuse vs. Rutgers was a pretty decent April methadone. Now I can watch the MAC or other small conference replays, but the backyard style of play and the knowledge that none of those teams have likely ever had a fullback on the roster diminishes the experience for me.
We have scant little football games of interest left. Pace those who are of the "We have too many bowl games" camp, we can take solace in the fact that we have too many bowl games. So we've got that going for us. But there is a big difference between games that are nice to have on in the background and games that hold your attention.
Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled to be at this point in the season and in the playoff position we are currently in. I'm ready to eat, drink, watch, and be merry and I can't wait see the Tide face off against the nation's best. I'm just taking a moment to recognize that the drought is coming, and since, as someone on Twitter pointed out, 2016 is a leap year, we will suffer an extra 86,400 seconds of off-season (the struggle is real.)
So with the dearth of football and things football related I will relish each possible moment of exposure. That means watching ESPN fill a full hour and a half of programming Saturday night to tell me in a few seconds who a majority of selected writers and ex-players think is the best offensive player on a highly ranked team even though I already know and will not change my opinion no matter what they say.
Still, I really want this for Henry, so you have to watch too.
Here's a snack to get you through the show.
Japanese Style Fried Fish with Lemon-Soy Dipping Sauce
1 ½ lbs. White Fish (I used Haddock, but Halibut or Cod among others would be fine.)
Peanut Oil, loads of Peanut Oil
2 beaten Eggs
- For the Sauce
Juice of one Lemon
½ cup Vegetable Stock
1 tbsp. Peanut Oil
1 tsp. grated fresh Ginger
3 tbsps. Soy Sauce
2 tbsps. Honey
1 tbsp. Cornstarch
Splash or so of Dry White Wine, to taste
Start with the sauce. Heat the peanut oil in a small sauce pan and sauté the ginger until aromatic, half a minute or so, and then add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce for five minutes. If it's too lemony, add a bit of honey and simmer a few more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Season the fish with salt and white pepper and cut into finger sized pieces. Set up an assembly line with a plate of cornstarch, a bowl of beaten eggs, and a plate of panko.
I like to fry in a wok but that doesn't mean you have to. Whatever vessel you choose, pour in enough oil to submerge four or so of the fish pieces and heat to 375˚. Preheat an oven to 200˚.
In batches, dredge the fish in cornstarch, dip in the egg wash, roll and coat in panko, and fry in the oil until golden (about four minutes.) Remove to drain and keep warm on a paper towel covered plate in the oven.
We served them with a simple arugula, radish, carrot, and champagne vinaigrette salad and some jasmine rice with coconut milk, but they are fish sticks. Set a platter of them down with a bowl of reheated sauce and scarf them down.
As good as they are hot, a few of them cold on toasted bread with a good bit of brown pub sauce the next day makes one hell of a sandwich. If you are not familiar with brown pub sauce, it's a tamarind base condiment that tastes more or less like a slightly spicy A-1, which will do in a pinch.
So Roll Tide, Heisman to Tractorcito, and enjoy.
I should note that if we win the NC, that the 86,400 seconds of leap year off-season emptiness will run concomitant with 86,400 extra seconds of being the reigning champions. Fingers Crossed.