In the first few pages of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, she dedicates the illustrious work to groups, among those the fishermen who lined the docks. Further on, she claims the best and freshest fish can be found in France, the beautiful birthplace of modern cuisine’s practices. Hopefully, after this, the denizens of Ohio can also feel that pride about what their home produces.
When people think of Ohio, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the first things that come to mind are corn and soybeans. Frankly, people gravitate to the coastal cities of the world for fresh fish, and for good reason. But we have a boatload of places in Ohio that provide fresh fish that often go overlooked.
That brings us to the perch, a humble fish with freshwater and saltwater variants. Lake Erie happens to be home to this very form of fish, and it was my pleasure to cook it and pair it with an appropriate wine. I decided to oven roast the perch in an oil-covered pan and dropped a charming amount of paprika and parmesan onto the fish among other seasonings.
While that fish was getting the tan of a lifetime, what It really needed was a wine. For this meal, wine will catch two fish with one lure. Not only must we pair a wine that aptly elevates the experience of taste, but the wine must be used in the preparation of the food. In short, a wine sauce.
We may be in Ohio, but Julia Child’s words still apply here: “If you do not have a good wine to use, it is far better to omit it, for a poor one can spoil a simple dish and utterly debase a noble one.” If the wine is not pleasant, the perch will suffer, as will those consuming it. The wine we want cannot overpower the delicate fish, but should have a defining character of its own. Karen MacNeil’s Wine Bible cites this comment on the selected wine. “…beautiful and perfectly shaped. With muscle but superb ability and elegance.”
This wine is the coveted Viognier, the perfect pair for this perch. Great for both a lovely white wine sauce to garnish the fish, and to sip with whomever you treat to this local and versatile fish. Let this remind that although we look across the seas to the greener pastures, we so often neglect that which grows around us. By nurturing what makes our locale unique in its produce, we become the greener pasture sought after by others and overall make the world’s palate a tad richer.
Noah Gruenberg is a junior studying music composition at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Noah? Email him at email@example.com.