"Holy Mackerel"
Thus Spoke Ginger

Anyone who reads this essay will know of my love for Ginger, my Irish Setter. In one way, this essay is remembering my first Irish Setter whose name was Ginger also. Granted. I dote over this Ginger even more than my first one. At 75, I am a doting grandfather to my grandchildren here in America and in Myanmar. However, she receives many expressions of love from me. She has more toys, bones, beds, canine paraphernalia than any other dog.

One of the things that I do as my expression of love for Ginger is to add to her dog food. I scramble an egg in the morning and mix it with her dry food. During the day she gets a Milk-Bone with a little peanut butter on it. She also gets a pig ear and a handful of carrots as treats. For dinner, she gets a couple squirts of a special omega-3 fatty acids solution added to her dry food.

Nevertheless, I’m always looking for differing combinations of things to add to the dry food. I know that dogs like fish and got a can. Then I announced to Ginger, “Yo, Ginger Pooh, I got you an added treat for dinner.”

Well, Ginger bounds into my kitchen and asks, “Where is my topper?” A topper is the term that describes things that you can add to dry food to make the dog and the owner both happy.

I gave Ginger her meal to which she replied, “Holy mackerel!” Interestingly, it was a heaping tablespoon of mackerel all chopped up and mixed with her dry food.

Nonetheless, I had no idea how Ginger knew it was mackerel. While she speaks to me in English, she can’t read. Therefore, how did she know it was mackerel and not tuna or whatever? So, I asked her.

“I know the smell of mackerel. It is instinctual.” Okay, I can except that but what’s with the holy issue?

“Well, the adjective, holy, is a euphemism for the tern, Holy Mary. It was a term that Irish Catholics used instead of saying Mary’s name in vain.”

Okay, apparently Ginger is well versed in history.

“Also, in the 17th century, Catholics ate fish on Fridays, which resulted in making mackerel rarer and thus more expensive. Hence, it was holy due to the cost to buy mackerel.

Holy Fish

I told Ginger that I was proud of her for being both learned and loving to which she replied, “Well, I am a lot like you.” However, Ginger was in stride and continued to explain the mackerel issue.

“You see, Friday, for Christians is a big deal. The early Church observed Friday as a holy day, which involved not eating meat. However, fish is a cold-blooded animal, which was permissible. During the medieval times, holy days mushroomed into the need for fish. Thus, holy days were a good deal for fish mongers. Over the centuries, various types of fish like herring and cod were used.”

I again acknowledge Ginger’s historical insights. However, she wasn’t finished with fish.

“You know about Henry VIII. Well, when he was king, his kingdom ate tons of fish. Nonetheless, Henry VIII fell in love with Anne Boleyn, which was a problem for both of them, since he was already married to Catherine of Aragon. The pope wouldn’t allow Henry VIII to divorce her. So, Henry VIII divorced the Roman Catholic Church and became the head of the Church of England. As the head of his church, he divorced Catherine of Aragon and married Anne Boleyn.

Henry VIII’s love for Anne Boleyn resulted in a decline of fish by the English. However, when Edward the VI becomes the king of England at the death of his father, he ordered that Merry ol’ England return to fast or holy days due to his belief that “for worldly and civil policy, to spare flesh, and use fish, for the benefit of the commonwealth, where many be fishers, and use the trade of living.”

Again, as a college professor, I was awestruck by Ginger’s mastery of history and told her so.

“I think that you are smart also. But, did you know that after Pope Paul VI became pope in the 60s, he removed many fast days from the Catholic calendar excluding eating meat on Fridays and during Lent. Regardless, I really love mackerel as a topper for my dinner.”

My only retort to Ginger was that I loved her.

Thus Ginger Spoke

Thus Ginger Spoke

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Thus Ginger Spoke

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