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Lake life

Catfish head stew

IMG_0423My dad really DID grow up during the Depression as one of eight kids and yes, he did walk to school from his small two bedroom wood house near Ward Four in the woods near Grayson. I’m not sure if it was ever barefoot in the snow or uphill both ways, but times weren’t easy back then. So, to get to the point, he didn’t waste anything on the old Caldwell Parish homestead. Ever.

He was a great cook on the grill and could fry fish with anybody. Back in the days when I was growing up that fish was usually whole fried bream. That’s about all we had. Occasionally, we would venture out and set out some trotlines and catch catfish. That was rare, though.

What was even more rare was Mom letting Dad in her Forrest Avenue kitchen to cook.

But one day, when she was gone and we had caught some catfish, he reverted to his Depression Era cooking training. He had skinned and cut up six or eight good catfish and he saved the heads.  He cleaned them up real good and removed the eyes. He made a milk gravy and seasoned it with salt and pepper (that’s all the seasoning we had in those days) and put in the fish heads to stew.

Unfortunately, he left the kitchen for a few minutes about the time Mom got home. She lifted the lid off the copper bottom pot, took a big spoon and gave it a stir. Up popped a stewing catfish head. Trust me. It wasn’t as good looking as you might picture.  My memory goes blank at this point, probably because of the ensuing screams!

But I do know that I have no further recollection of Dad ever taking part in indoor cooking? And I don’t remember what the stew tasted like, but I’m sure he and I ate it, probably on some toasted heel pieces of Wonder Bread with a fresh summer garden tomato.

Did I mention he didn’t waste anything? Ever.

I hope you have a good, safe weekend and CATch lots of fish!


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