I HAPPEN TO LOVE catfish: blackened catfish, cajun catfish, catfish with blackbean sauce, catfish & grits; Catfish Masala, Catfish Provencale, Catfish Piccata, Catfish Almondine; pecan-crusted catfish, panang catfish, pan-seared catfish, and the Great Granddaddy of them all, good old fashioned southern fried catfish.
Yes, heaven is an all-you-can-eat buffet of catfish.
My friend, _ar____ had been promising to take me to a catfish joint in Austell which he's been raving about for the past two years - the kind where, on Saturday nights, people stuff themselves four generations at a time; the kind of where people walk in, but have to roll themselves out.
We finally made it there this past Saturday. Though the place was packed, the hostess was able to seat us immediately.
Before I could open the menu _ar___ said, "Salt & Pepper catfish."
"What?" I said.
"Salt & Pepper catfish. You can look at the menu, but the S & P catfish is great. Trust me on this one."
"Okay, Salt & Pepper it is," I said and tapped the menu shut.
As the waiters scurried to and fro balancing platters of crab, oysters, and fish, two of them nodded at _ar___, recognizing him from his previous visits.
"I come here almost every week," he said.
When our twenty-something waiter arrived, he seemed a little awkward in taking our drink orders. He wasn't very personable.
"You want water... and lemonade?"
"Yeah," I said. "A water and a lemonade."
In an effort to change the vibe, _ar___ made some small talk. "You're new here, aren't you?"
"No," the waiter replied indignantly. "I've been here a whole month."