Meditations on acidity

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.


Yucatan-style pickled onions
Something beautiful.

21 thoughts on “Meditations on acidity”

  1. Locally, there was a restaurant that served fried catfish, with all the pickled relish and hush puppies you wanted. They even had a once-a-week all you can eat special, which led to weekly examples of gluttony. The restaurant was sold, the new owners didn’t have the same quality, and a legacy ended.

  2. There really are two things we call forgiveness, and it’s frustrating we only have one word for them. One is to let things go back to how they were, to make amends; and the other is to remember the hurt but move on as best you can. The first type is a privilege only granted to those who have gone through some sort of apology and deserve a second chance. The second is healing, and exists independently of whether or not the offender is still offensive.

    Fried catfish is tasty. Today we’re having fried chicken at home — it took a while, but I perfected my technique. Wishing I had some lemon juice or pickled onion to go with it.

  3. You got put through it, but came out on the other side with friends, family, and a wonderful lady. You have all the stories and memories of your old career and can look forward the fun of a new one.

    And we’re all lucky to be a part of it.

  4. The perpetrators have one court to attend, eventually. One from which there CAN’T be any appeal because they themselves self-condemn. They can only repent of their sins in this life.

    The song “I’m Still Standing” isn’t just an anthem for Sir Elton of John. It’s also our anthem. Move on, enjoy the catfish a la Lawdog. And your Lady Love. And the rest of your lives together! You’ve earned it.

    Ulises from the People’s Republik of Kalipornia

  5. IIRC, the banana peppers are usually pickled. There’s the touch of acetic acid and a mild peppery taste. Sounds splendid, worth trying this summer with freshly fried fish. Sometimes the Lord gives us hint of His regard for us.

  6. It took me years to truly understand the sheer power of the idea behind those oft said words “The best revenge is living well.”

    So yes, by all means, absolutely do *enjoy the catfish*.

  7. I’ve known you by reputation for a long while now, and I’ve enjoyed the privilege of dropping the “by reputation” part over the past few months. You’re a good man, LawDog, and they can’t ever take that away from you

    *Raises glass* Here’s to learning how to have fun again.

  8. Relish your freedom from the little pricks of life, Mr. Dog. Living well IS the best revenge, and karma tends to bite the butts of such individuals. And you can just sit there and smile….

    1. “Relish your freedom from the little pricks of life…”

      That statement works on multiple levels!

  9. Restaurants around here usually include lemon wedges with the fried catfish for the acid. But, yeah, dwelling on something that you don’t have the ability to do anything about will just wear you down. It does nothing to them so just let it go. It’s not worth the heartburn.

  10. I love malt vinegar on fish and chips for the same reason.

    Hang in there LD, sometimes all you can do is outlive the b@$tards.

    1. A local restaurant used to serve fried jalapenos, called it “okra with an attitude”. That actually was good, and did not seem as hot as might be expected. A slice of pizza with a ring of jalapeno on it, on the other hand, left quite an impression.

  11. I raise my glass to you, good sir. A nice healthy wineglass of cran-peach juice, because while I am of an age to want to enjoy a little wine with dinner, I am far too easily gassed by the bubbly stuff. Hubby laughs that I can only drink the neck of a wine cooler and I’m blotto, and he’s not far off. I’m not a flyweight, I’m a Japanese Shohi screen paperweight. But I digress a tad.

    Your mention that food is not simply fuel reminds me of my grandfather and his parents. Granddad was a master chef like his father before him, and Great-Grandma raised him, his sister, and his two brothers through the Great Depression. One thing Grandpa taught me about food was that it should always please all the senses. It’s not just filler for your belly, it needs to satisfy sight, smell, taste. You need it to be beautiful so you say it’s too pretty to eat. It needs to smell good so you salivate over it. It needs to taste good so you want to eat it slowly and savor it. Food isn’t just there to feed your tummy, it’s there to feed you, period.

    So I’m glad you found a new way to eat catfish. Never tried it with peppers myself, but perhaps it’s time I did!

  12. I am willing to forgive if asked to by the offending party. Not happening otherwise. Getting on with your life is the best revenge. It is the equivalent of just turning your back and walking away.

    What goes around comes around, which leads me to this story. Hope it gives you a chuckle.

    I grew up as a young lad in the California gold rush country, Amador county. There was gentleman named Colburn who was a mover and shaker in local politics for decades. He was also quite fond of his drink. There were folks who had strong opinions about him, pro and con. Eventually came the day he went to his final reward from natural causes. I heard the rest of the story long after the fact.

    There were many in attendance at his funeral service, filling most of the seats. Just before the service was to begin, a gentleman of Indian decent (dot, not feather) walked in the door and up the center isle to the open casket. He gazed down and said to himself, just loud enough for the front row to hear, “Yup, yup, sonofabitch is finally dead”, turned and walked out.

  13. Food. I have a fondness for Mezzetta pepperoncini peppers, preferably the ones with garlic cloves. With a little wandering around on YooToob, I have taken it step further. Stick a bulb of garlic in the microwave and nuke it for 20 seconds. More than that and the cloves start to overcook and get mushy.

    The idea is to reach 140 degrees, which breaks down the allicin that makes garlic spicey hot. This also makes the cloves easier to peel. So, once I’ve finished off the peppers in the jar, I dump the nuked peeled garlic cloves in the left-over juice/vinegar. Let them sit at least overnight. Very tasty, and possibly useful for court appearances.

  14. I can remember one time I had a jar of spicy pickle juice in the fridge, took my catfish filets and did a quick marinade in the pickle juice. It was some of the best tasting, but alas, I have been unable to duplicate the results. You can take too long in the marinade and end up with ceviche. Enjoy reading your blogs, and managed to get a good kindle read from your previous author recommendation.

  15. I still think you should have sued.

    But that is a choice we all make. And it would ahve dragged things out longer.

    Living well is indeed the best revenge.

  16. Back in 2018, internet personality JoshScorcher learned that a colleague with mutual friends had secretly been a particularly odious sort of critter for some years. Here’s a relevant excerpt from a video he made on the subject.

    “The word ‘forgiveness’, for most Christians, holds a drastically different meaning than for most secular audiences. First, I want to talk about what we DON’T mean. Some think that when we say ‘forgiveness’, we mean that we need to run up and hug this guy, and have all sorts of lovey-dovey feelings towards him, or that we mean forgive and forget. NO. We don’t believe that. No one in their right MIND would defend nor absolve Toon’s actions. … The law is very clear that he needs to pay for what he did, both the laws of the land and the laws of God. I am in TOTAL agreement with everyone.

    “Another thing we don’t mean is to dismiss the pain that Toon’s victims are going through. To all of Toon’s victims, we hear how much you’ve suffered, and we do want you to be heard. We are sorry that you had to fight through the pain for so long, and we’re grateful that you had the courage to speak up. … You should know that all of us just want for you to heal. …

    “As for what we DID mean: It should be noted that the secular and popular definition of forgiveness is synonymous with acceptance. Ever since the beginning, people have been telling us that forgiveness should be earned. Going on THAT definition, yes! I agree, acceptance must be earned. The Christian definition of forgiveness, however, means something else entirely. It is rooted in something that is not a feeling and cannot be earned. I think it’s important to know that when I or Doc say ‘forgiveness’, we do not mean that someone should not still be punished for a sin. We simply mean that they should be treated without cruelty[.] … My beliefs empirically state that we must love everyone as we love ourselves, and as such, if I was to commit a serious crime, even though I may believe my intentions were good, I know that I should turn myself in and face the consequences of my actions.”

  17. The end of your post contains a gem of mental healthiness expressed with the superlative writing skill we have come to treasure.
    And the authoring and editing which you now have time for, may be all the better due to leaving the public service world. Now you can concentrate on the literary one and I hope you find deep enjoyment in the accomplishments which I know will follow.
    Once you have exhausted the LawDog stories (one man can only live so much worth writing about) how about putting together interesting and fun stories from your friends and associates? Military, aviation, medical services, other police stories etc will be a good source, at least in my opinion.
    – Bart Noir

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