By Amy L. Schubert Food Writer Published Apr 19, 2007 at 8:06 AM

I survived my first smelt fry (and no, I didn't get a T-shirt) but wow, what an interesting experience!

Firstly, you can actually see the silvery skin of the smelt under their crisp breading, which was a little intimidating to me as I walked my plastic plate of silvery fish, fries, and cole slaw to a white plastic tableclothed section filled with diners in the American Legion Post No. 82. The tartar sauce was served family style in alternating large corningware containers and plastic bowls, and there was ketchup in abundance for the piles of fries.

Honestly, after I got past the panic of putting Mr. Silver, tail and all, into my mouth, it wasn't half bad. The smelt taste something like a cross between a smoked fish and a fish fry, and the tiny ones can be quite literally popped whole into your mouth. The fries and cole slaw were good, and the company was quite unlike anything I've ever seen before, and magnified by the fact that people bring their own accoutrements for the Smelt Fry experience. We saw people unpacking hot sauce, lemons, and salt and pepper for their fishes, and one group even brought a frozen French silk pie and a bottle of wine. For me, next year, I will bring a couple packets of butter for the rye bread that goes with the smelt, and likely something sweet to have for dessert post fry.

The American Legion Post No. 82's 57th Annual Smelt Fry will take place on Friday, March 28, 2008 and Saturday, March 29, 2008 at 435 Lake Street, Port Washington -- put it in your calendars now, as the lines are long and the smelt aplenty.

Oh, and P.S. dear readers, my Coors Light wasn't too bad!

Amy L. Schubert is a 15-year veteran of the hospitality industry and has worked in every aspect of bar and restaurant operations. A graduate of Marquette University (B.A.-Writing Intensive English, 1997) and UW-Milwaukee (M.A.-Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Writing, 2001), Amy still occasionally moonlights as a guest bartender and she mixes a mean martini.

The restaurant business seems to be in Amy’s blood, and she prides herself in researching and experimenting with culinary combinations and cooking techniques in her own kitchen as well as in friends’ restaurants. Both she and her husband, Scott, are avid cooks and “wine heads,” and love to entertain friends, family and neighbors as frequently as possible.

Amy and Scott live with their boys, Alex and Nick, in Bay View, where they are all very active in the community. Amy finds great pleasure in sharing her knowledge and passions for food and writing in her contributions to