Come to northwest Alabama.
Get your fishing gear, a couple of buddies, and head for the lakes and rivers.
The fish will jump right into your boat.
Assemble all ingredients—5 pounds of fish, a propane cooker, the guy who’s going to clean the fish, and a blues singer.
This recipe works best if you cook right next to the water. Soak thin catfish filets in a quart of buttermilk, 4 eggs, a cup of mustard (the table kind, not greens), beer, salt, red pepper, garlic, and lots of those other spices your MawMaw keeps around the kitchen. If you can stand to wait, soak filets all night.
Sift fine cornmeal and seasonings into a paper bag and shake fish every which way but upside down. Turn the burner on full blast; test the oil with the tip of a kitchen match. Drop fish tenderly one piece at a time.
Tell about the one that got away.
Fry catfish until it’s golden on the outside and so flaky tender on the inside it brings tears to your eyes. Meantime, cook up a big pot of turnip greens and pot liquor, shell some fresh purple hull peas and simmer them with ham, stir up an iron skillet full of melt-in-your mouth cornbread and bake it until it’s the color of butter on the inside and crispy sweet on the outside, make a molasses and sweet potato pie, and mix up a pitcher of ice cold sweet tea.
Serve with sweet bacon and onion hush puppies lightly fried in spittin’ hot oil.
Eat it all with ketchup; you will hear yourself involuntarily say Oh, Man!