I suppose that it is my Southern roots showing, but I really do like good fried catfish.
To me, fried catfish is finger food. There’s a certain satisfaction to be had sitting at a table, breaking those golden slabs into bite-size chunks with your fingers, and popping them into your mouth. Something picnic-y and summery about it.
As with most food, a little touch of acidity brightens the flavours of catfish, traditionally this is done with pickles or onions — take a chunk of fish, put a pickle chip or a small bit of onion on it, and snarf the whole thing. The sulfenic acid in the onion, or the acetic acid in the pickle, enhances the mild flavour of the fish, and makes it ‘pop’.
I tend to use pickled onions with fried catfish at home, but pickled onions aren’t something you find at catfish shacks Stateside.
We do something similar with lemon on chicken — the citric acid brightens the taste of chicken rather nicely.
Month or so ago I was at the local catfish place, and wandered up to the salad bar to get a little bowl of pickle slices for my fish, but the glare of the LED lights under the sneeze shield, along with the darkness of the shack, and my damaged retina, meant that when I got back to the table I discovered that I had a bowl of banana pepper rings instead of the dill pickle chips I had intended.
Not wanting to waste the perfectly good peppers, I figured ‘what the hell’ and popped a ring on a chunk of fish and chowed down.
Oh … that was delectable. My new favourite topper for fried catfish. And a reminder that there are still pleasant surprises out there; and to savour the little things. That food is not simply fuel.
I was thinking about that just now, and I’m coming to realize that it’s time to stow the baggage of the last couple of years, and get back to enjoying the small, everyday delights.
I was wronged — deliberately and maliciously — and I have every right to be furious. The people who cost me a career, who dragged me through hell for two years, and who injured me in ways both long-term and subtle (see ‘damaged retina’, above) will never pay any sort of price for their conduct. And no-one can deny me the right to be enraged by it.
But to stew on being done wrong is not hurting them. It is hurting me. It is denying me the enjoyment of the small things.
So. Time to cock a snook at those bastards one last time, then ignore their existence and let the acidity of the last couple of years enhance and brighten the little things again.
Going to be a good year, Gentle Readers. I will make it so.