Like Charles Kuralt, my first Friday lunch bunch took its show on the road today. We ventured deep into the boonies to visit Pap’s Place, a restaurant in Ackerman, Mississippi. Population – about 500 – except during lunch when the body count rises to almost 1,000, all because of Pap’s reputation for the best fried catfish “in these parts.”
“Sir, may I have hush puppies AND cornbread,” I inquired of Pap Smiley who guards the cash register while his wife bustles about wearing a huge catfish head. “Whatever melts your butter, honey.” What a guy. His dark locks were oozing with something that made me suspect he’d dipped his comb into the frying oil.
The food was out of this world, but no road trip would be complete without a cruise through the local shopping outlets. We uncovered a jewel buried in the redhills of Choctaw County. The Tizzy Lizzy – a few doors down from Paps! It offered wares you’d expect to find on Fifth Avenue of New York City. Gaw-lee! We all started our Christmas Shopping.
The trip was such a success we think we might try to hit some other out-of- the-way spots during 2009. Artesia might be a possibility, but about the “onliest” place to eat is the gas station where they slice off a big hunk of rat cheese and give you a handfull of saltines. That might work.
Mrs. Pap, above, served Lulu, Jane and Julia wearing her catfish head. You can’t find that in New York City.
The smarmy Mr. Smiley took a liking to our bunch and even offered to fry up a whole catfish to please our Mama O who had a hankering for a big one. She swears catfish is better served whole rather than the strips.
The caramel cake was served with icing one-half inch thick. Ditto on the chocolate cake. Mama O says it was “from scratch” and she would know.
Mama O was overjoyed with her whole fried catfish (left) while the rest of us noshed down crispy fried strips with turnip greens, mac and cheese, and a concoction we decided might have been broccoli casserole though we only found one piece of broccoli in the batch. Don’t want to be too healthy, don’t you know? When we left, Mrs. Pap was already engaged in preparing chicken ‘n dumplins for the evening crowd.
Check out the lovely centerpiece below. Now, tell me we didn’t make a great choice for First Friday Lunch bunch which has yet to actually meet on the first Friday of the month. This is MY Mississippi! I love it so!