Catfish and Cottages

It was an unassuming little red house, tucked away in the woods of Tennessee; just a short walk from Kentucky Lake. It had a covered porch, with a swing and a tether ball in the yard. I loved that place. Everything about going to the cottage was special, including dinner time. I can still smell it cooking;  greens, black-eyed peas, cornbread and catfish. My mouth is watering just from typing those words. It was simple, delicious food but that’s not why the memory holds so much meaning for me. It was far more than that.

I can still feel the sunlight streaming through the bay window as I sat at the kitchen table while supper was being prepared. I can picture all of the little toothpick holders that granny displayed on the window sills. My favorite was the little boy wearing a sombrero, pulling a donkey. His face was so expressive, he seemed so lively.  I wanted to be his friend. I loved being in the kitchen when granny was cooking. There is nothing quite like fresh catfish, coated in a cornmeal breading and fried to perfection in a cast iron skillet. Hearing the sizzle and pop of the grease as she cooked this southern feast for us made me feel so happy. I can still see the little bits of cornmeal, that fell off the fish, turning golden brown as she cooked up batches of flaky white goodness. The pot of black-eyed peas that was simmering on the stove always had bacon in it, because everything is better with bacon.

I love this meal, not just because it was delicious, but because of all it represents for me; the summers of my childhood, family, fun, fishing, good food and grandmas. Granny was a great woman and I aspire to meet life with the grace and beauty that she possessed. She was a hard act to follow, but I hope some day my grandchildren will think of me and recall with fondness, not only the food I cooked for them, but the love I showered on them and the memories I built with them.


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