Go Dutch: It’s Herring Season

“We weren’t aware, but apparently the new herring season is something to celebrate,” says the New York iteration of Eater. New York’s Grand Central Oyster Bar will get the herring party started June 3, as soon as its shipment arrives from the Netherlands.

If you’ve never been to Holland to celebrate Vlaggetjesdag, you probably aren’t aware of the rich history and rituals associated with this fish. Not to worry—the official Vlaggetjesdag website will fill you in:

[H]erring has traditionally been eaten salted in Holland; this includes a special gutting process which, according to tradition, was invented by Willem Beukelszoon in 1380. When herring is gutted, the pancreas is not removed, so that special pancreatic enzymes let the fish ripen. Yes, that sounds good doesn’t it!

Well, no, that really doesn’t sound good, but New York’s beloved specialty foods store Russ & Daughters calls its New Catch Holland Herring “buttery,” “fabulous,” and “a piece of gastronomic heaven”—which certainly sounds more tempting than fish ripened by pancreatic enzymes. Plus, even if you’ve never eaten herring before, the store’s website lists three reasons why you should get into the fish this year:

1. It’s delicious.

2. Think salmon is good for you? Well it is, but herring is even better. Herring has an even higher level of Omega-3 fatty acids. Clinical research is increasingly focused on the health benefits, both physical and mental, of eating herring.

3. At 115, Dutchwoman Hendrike van Andel-Schipper, was the oldest person alive at the time of her death in 2005. She reported that the key to longevity was to ‘keep breathing and eat herring.’

According to Russ & Daughters, herring is traditionally “eaten by holding the two fillets attached at the tail and dropping the whole herring into your mouth.” And if you stop by during herring season (starting June 3 and continuing for four to five weeks), you can do this right at the shop’s counter. Out-of-towners can preorder herring from Russ & Daughters by calling 212-475-4880, but at $35 for a pack of 10, these better be as tasty as the shop claims they are.

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