This Is The South: Catfish House

In 2016, I moved from the land of snow and Uff-da to southern Mississippi. It has been a Cultural Experience on so many different levels. I have offended people with my disinterest in cornbread and grits, learned the meaning of the phrase “wide open,” and discovered various foreign delicacies that I had never heard of before such as chicken spaghetti and fried okra — to name just a few things! So I thought it would be interesting to start a series called “This is The South” where I occasionally feature various foods and customs that were completely new to Midwestern Me. Let us commence.

Southern Catfish House
Southern Catfish House delicacies…

The Catfish House

Probably every small town in the south has some kind of catfish house. The business model seems a little unique to me. Most catfish houses are only open on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, (and sometimes Sunday) nights from about 5-9pm. During these truncated hours, they are jam-packed with all — and I mean all! — of your friends, neighbors, and relations.

It is such a distinctive experience that some catfish houses don’t even have menus — everybody knows what would be on it, so why bother, right?

Typically, a bowl of coleslaw and a basket of saltine crackers will be brought out as an appetizer. The staples on the menu are usually a 4-6 piece plate of fried catfish fillets, hushpuppies, french fries, fried okra, stewed turnip greens, and other fried things as well. Probably hamburgers are available, too, for the un-fishy among us though I haven’t looked specifically for that. Oh, and of course, Sweet Tea! (Too sweet for me! I’ll stick with water, thanks.)  Condiments on the table, in addition to the obvious salt and peppers, will include some kind of hot sauce, ketchup, and a bottle of “pepper sauce” which is actually not a sauce, but a jar of vinegar infused with hot peppers. (This is a must for sprinkling into your turnip greens.) There’s a little bit of variation in seasonings for the breading of fried items or turnip greens, but for the most part I think a catfish house is a catfish house. Near larger towns, they might mix up the menu and bring in some shrimp or crab.

Jerry’s Catfish House

Jerry's Catfish House, Florence, MS
Jerry’s Catfish House, Florence, MS

Or frog legs. Jerry’s Catfish House does frog legs…..And that’s not the only unusual thing about it!

I drive by Jerry’s Catfish House every day, and I wonder what the story is. The building looks like a big, white igloo on the side of the road. My best hypothesis is that maybe the catfish house owners purchased the building from some kind of displaced eskimo cult? Maybe? So this past weekend, we finally decided to check it out.

Despite its puzzling architecture, Jerry’s Catfish House is a typical catfish house. They make use of the domed rotunda by having a second level of seating along the perimeter that looks down on the level below through a railing lined with streetlamp-like fixtures. While I was there, I didn’t ask anybody about the reason for the “igloo” design because everybody seemed a little too busy to be bothered. But from some photos on the wall, we found that apparently the owners of the catfish house were involved in the construction! So the mystery continues. Maybe it’s supposed to look like a catfish egg. Oh–no, apparently catfish eggs are orange. Hmm. Oh well!

As far as how Jerry’s food stacks up, I feel like I have had more flavorful breading elsewhere, but overall everything was great! Not too greasy, and very crisp and fresh.

Conclusion

Fried Okra - This is The South
Fried Okra – This is The South

 

This is the South: A Catfish House
This is the South: A Catfish House

 

So if you’re ever anywhere in the south, make sure you visit a catfish house! Throw caution to the wind and try fried all-the-things — I especially recommend okra and jalapenos.

 

And if you can find out why Jerry’s looks like an igloo — leave a comment! I’m dying to know!

 

 

 

7 Sioux Falls Restaurants You Don’t Want to Miss

7 Sioux Falls Restaurants
7 Great Sioux Falls Restaurants!

 

 

Sioux Falls probably isn’t on your bucket list. And if you were passing through, after driving through all that empty prairie, it probably wouldn’t occur to you to look for really great world cuisine options or a waterfall.

And yet, there they are.

I lived in Sioux Falls for a couple years while finishing my degree–this is also, for the most part, where I dated my husband. So I like to think I know a lot of the things there are to know about Sioux Falls.

Am I going to tell you to add it to your bucket list, you MUST go? …… Nah. But if it’s between you and wherever you’re going, it’s worth a stop!

For one thing, all the food! Here are seven really great and unexpected dining options in Sioux Falls….

 

 

Where to Eat in Sioux Falls

Here are a few of our favorites…..

  • Sanaa’s – Authentic Mediterranean, and she’s always switching up the menu so there’s always something new to try! Gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly, if you have those preferences!
  • Coffea – Sioux Falls has a bunch of coffee shops, but unfortunately, this is the only one I’ve visited! (I have also heard Joseph’s, The Black Sheep, and the Bluebird Cafe get rave reviews.) My experience of Coffea is that they are very on-trend. If you want the perfect hipster, artsy coffee shop vibe, this one’s for you.
  • McNally’s Irish Pub – A gorgeous interior with lots of dark wood and hammered metal. The food is pretty upscale and they include both classic Irish fare and some more surprising menu options.
  • Oshima Sushi – From the cozy atmosphere to the really great service, I think this is probably my favorite Japanese restaurant ever. My mouth still waters thinking about their miso soup.
  • Minerva’s – If you want to get fancy, don’t miss Minerva’s. They have multiple locations across South Dakota and Iowa, but the one in downtown Sioux Falls is where it all began and it’s a regional icon.
  • Lalibela Ethiopian – Researching for this article, I was sorry to find out that Lalibela has closed due to their building being razed to make way for a gas station! I’m still going to include it in this list, though, with the hope that they’ll be able to re-open somewhere else. This restaurant was truly a gem and a one-of-a-kind addition to the local food scene.
  • Overlook Cafe – The best soups, salads, and sandwiches in town — and the view is pretty unique, too, which leads to our next category…..

 

Remember how I mentioned that waterfall? Tune in next week for some more Sioux Falls attractions!