Salmon from a tin

I love Fridays, because, we get to eat fish. Of course, anyone can do that, who has the money, regardless of his race or cult. But as a Catholic, with some few ascetic aspirations, I try to deny myself fish on the other days. Then I can wake Friday morning with the thought, “Ho! This is a day for fish!”

My spiritual director tells me I still have room for improvement. But he is not a Jansenist. He says, if you happen to like fish, count it a blessing.

My mother, who often made salmon sandwiches, did so habitually on Fridays. This could not have been a Catholic affectation on her part, as she had been declaring herself an Atheist from the age of nineteen. It was instead, I think, an anti-Calvinist gesture. From her, and from my childhood, I retain this enduring recipe.

It begins with Wonderbread. It could begin, instead, with something hard and Danish — a dark, dense, sourdough rye — but then, the sandwich would have to be open-faced, and the bread thick-covered with butter, in the Scandihoovian fashion; or better, contiguous strips of brie. Still, as a traditionalist, I will specify Wonderbread, in doubled soft slices.

Take, from the pantry, a seven-ounce tin of sockeye salmon. (Not the pinko kind!) Drain the water, and empty the rest in a bowl. (It helps to open the tin, first.) Remove, patiently, with a small fork, all evidence that the creature was once a vertebrate. Persist, until overcome with the temptation to mash.

Now come the additives. These will include a full tablespoon of raw lemon juice; ground black pepper (to extravagant taste); and a teaspoon or less of curry powder (Chinese not Indian; emphasis on fennel, cinnamon, cloves). Ideally, too, a finely-chopped spring onion stalk, but I do not find one in the High Doganate today. Then, the spicing having been pressed with intimacy against the fish, splatter in a grand dollop of Hellmann’s “mayonnaise” (America’s national emulsion). Mash, and mash again.

Goes well with celery or crisps of some sort. Serves two Christians, or one pagan.