News - February 2, 2012

Captain Iglo

Last Wednesday, as usual, I had dinner with the lovely Dutch family in Wageningen Hoog, and it was Gerard's turn to cook. To celebrate the Chinese New Year, he had informed me that I could order one dish. 'I will appreciate whatever you make with fish,' I answered instinctively.

Gerd Deutchmann, aka Kapitein Iglo
It turned out to be a box of frozen food: deep fried fish fingers. 'Why do the Dutch love the FEBO stuff so much?' I was a bit disappointed and grumbled inwardly. Perhaps Gerard read my mind and asked: 'do you know what it is?' 'I've no idea,' I said. 'It's called fish-stick and made by our honorable captain, Kapitein Iglo!' 'Captain Iglo?' 'Yes! Many Dutch kids don't like the smell of fish, it's our way to attract them to take a bite,' he pointed at the sizzling sticks in the deep fryer, 'it's sad to hear that he passed away several weeks ago. We will miss him,' he looked sad like a kid.

Later that night I googled Captain Iglo's life and related videos, and I found it weird that the news of his death was reported on NOS two weeks after he passed away. His name is Gerd Deutschmann. During 2008 and 2010, he took over the job of John Hewer, a better known predecessor as the mascot for the fish fingers. Besides an actor the most interesting anecdote about Mr. Deutschmann's life may be his over-45-year history as a taxi driver in Munich.

Based on all these scattered reports above, my first reaction was to doubt if his career could be regarded as a decent one by the oriental values. But once I recalled the respect in Gerard's expression when he talked about the Captain Iglo, I realized my wild guess was groundless and unnecessary: there must be many other Dutch like Gerard, this middle-aged man, who began to appreciate fish thanks to this suited-up old sailor. It's definitely a huge achievement to influence the taste of a whole generation. But as a fish-maniac, I personally hope the succeeding Captain Iglo can teach the Dutch kids how to eat the fish without the delicious but junky crust; because the inside is the real essence.

Vid of the week: The Captain Iglo in 1987, the year when I was born.