This Friday I think I am gonna write about one of my favorite family summer traditions.....the fish fry! Every year growing up my grandfather, father, and I would spend all spring catching crappie, bream, and the occasional bass or catfish. All of the fish would go into the freezer. I remember when I was younger they were frozen in cardboard half gallon milk containers. Now they are frozen in Ziplock Freezerbags.
Well soon the 4th of July would roll around. That is when most of the fish from the spring would be unthawed and cooked. Now I am not talking a few pounds of fish here. I mean these fish fries would have sometimes as many as two dozen people there. There was families, extended families, and friends. I can remember being at many as a kid thinking, "I don't know who half of these people are!" But they were there for the fellowship and the fish.
It was a neat feeling to think that the fish that we were eating were the fish that the three of us had caught in the weeks before. I can remember dad and grandpa always teasing as they pulled out the fillets. "Wow, That's a big one! Yeah I remember catching this fish. Oh wait, here this little one! Must have been your's Kyle." Ain't it great to be the kid!
But seriously in all the years we had those fish fries I never remember having to go to the store and buy fish. There were some years when the fishing would be tough in the early season that I would worry that we would not have enough. But somehow the LORD always seemed to provide enough for everyone to eat.
Now about this fish fryer of my grandpa's. It was nothing like these new fryers of today that you see people using to fry turkeys and fish in. No this thing was about the oldest looking piece of scrap metal you can imagine. It was held together by rust. I am pretty sure the thing used rocket fuel because it sounded like a jet engine. People would stand outside around it and talk. Well talk is an understatement. They would really have to yell to be heard over the fryer. You would think people would go inside until the fish was all done, but the veterans new a secret. You stayed near the fryer because as the batches of fish would get done, grandpa would give those standing by a bite of fresh HOT fish. There is nothing like fried fish straight out of the oil!!!
As the fish would get done grandpa would put the fish into paper grocery bags, you know the brown type, that had been lined with paper towels to catch the excess grease. He would roll the top down to keep the heat in. Man the outside of those bags would get so much grease bleeding through! Enough to give any health nut a heartattack!
After all of the fish were done, grandpa would come out with the hushpuppy batter. He would spoon the batter in a scoop at a time. Soon the batter had puffed up to form this beautiful golden brown hushpuppy. Those went into a paper bag as well.
The meal was topped off with slaw, many assorted vegetables, and all the favorite sidedishes that the various people had brought. Of course there was always a few gallons of sweet tea in the fridge. The meal ended with a huge spread of desserts.
I don't know if this is really just a Southern thing or not, but I wish that everyone could experience a meal like that. It's just one of those things that taste like family to me!