There was a restaurant in Childersburg, AL called Whiskers. They named their business after the grossest part of the catfish. To some, everything about the catfish is gross: catfish is a polarizing dish. People generally love it, or are grossed out by it. Although there is only one way to cook catfish, that is battered in cornmeal and fried in a skillet or fish fryer (I am thoroughly resolved on this matter), there is division on how it should be dressed before frying: whole or filleted. When you dress them whole, or bone in, you gut them, skin them, and cut their heads off, leaving the tail that crunches up like a potato chip after it comes out of the skillet. You have to be careful when you eat whole catfish because the bones are sharp. When you eat one properly you’ll be left with a perfect fish skeleton just like the kind in the comics. When you filet a catfish, you slice him right behind the pectoral fin all the way to the spine, then turn your knife and slice him all the way to the tail. Once you reach the tail you flip the slice away from the body and cut the skin away. Once you get real good at it, it looks like one fluid motion. “You waste a lot of meat when you fillet them.” You hear these kind of complaints from people who aren’t cleaning fish at all. I grew up eating fish, not just catfish, filleted. But I’m not so stuck up that I won’t eat a whole one tail and all.
I remember a conversation my dad had with John Smith. John was giving Dad directions to somewhere near Rockford, AL. “Bro. Perry, You know where that Catfish restaurant is on the right?”
“I know where that is. I’ve always wanted to stop and see if they have some good catfish in there.” My Dad asked.
“Brother Perry. Man do they have some catfish! You talking ’bout some good eating.” John began to get excited as he described the catfish in a little more detail.
“Are they good?” Dad asked, now more interested in the catfish than wherever John had been directing him in the first place.
John got a real sheepish grin on his face.
“I don’t know.” he said. “I had a cheeseburger.”