The Flopeye Fish Fry
The Flopeye Fish Fry
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am going to take you to the Flopeye Fish Fry. A two-day event right here in nearby Great Falls, SC.
It is complete with politicians, preachers, beauty queens, and Civil War soldiers.
One Saturday morning, since my guy and I were having company that night for dinner, I had to run to the grocery store.
He said, “You know that banner by the highway advertising the Flopeye Restaurant? I saw tents being set up while you were gone and evidently they’re having a fish fry today. I’ll go with you and we’ll eat lunch there.”
Sounds like a plan to me. Fried fish. Most Southerners were raised on fried fish. If you were from the real deep south, you had grits and doughboys* as sides.
If you know how to fry foods, you can fry fish. I’ll give you a quick Fried Fish Recipe. As in anything, fresh is best. (Except sweet tea. We all know it’s better after being refrigerated overnight.)
Barefoot Fried Fish
- fish fillets
- peanut oil (or any light tasting, high temp oil.)
- corn meal
- a paper sack (The grocery store kind.)
Pour in oil until your pot’s about half full of oil, heat the oil to about 350-375o. Pour about 1/4 cup corn meal per fish fillet into paper sack. Add about 1 teaspoon salt. Shake.
When oil is hot (Use a candy thermometer or if you’re Betty or Tom, just look at it and say, “Almost there.”) add fish to sack of meal and shake. Gently shake excess meal off fillets and slip into the oil. Don’t overcrowd.
When golden brown, removed from oil and drain on paper towels spread over another paper sack. You could use a metal rack to drain, but that’s getting way too swanky.
Eat the first piece as soon as possible. It’ll be hot, but sacrifices must be made. The edges should be soft, not hard and crusty and the center should be milky white, not translucent. Adjust temp and time accordingly.
Left-over meal can be used to make doughboys, fried balls, but we’ll get to that later.
From our house, it’s about a 40-minute drive to a Publix grocery store, so we plan our errands into town. Great Falls, once the home of a thriving mill industry, is a sleepy little town about 10 minutes away. They have one grocery store— an IGA.
Independent Grocers Alliance. Excellent for basic, no-frill necessities.
The only IGAs I’ve seen are in small towns in the south, but their website says they’re international. Those I’ve been in make you feel like you’re stepping back in time.
Not much in the way of organic foods. I’ve never seen any displays with free-range chickens or eggs, no bison, no happy cows or pigs. It’s like “Back-to-the-Future” 1950. They’ve always been clean and friendly.
The first time I went into the Great Falls IGA, I made my purchases and paid. Then I remembered I wanted to buy a local newspaper. It comes out twice a week. On Sunday and Friday, I think.
As the cashier handed me my bag of groceries, I said, “Oh, shoot. I was going to buy a newspaper. Where are they?”
She answered, “They’re right here. This came out yesterday.”
I had no cash, only my debit and the paper was $1.25.
“Thanks. I didn’t bring cash with me.”
“Let me get it for you.”
“That’s so sweet of you. But, no. This isn’t an emergency. If I needed medicine? I’d take you up on it, but this is just a newspaper. I’ll get one later. But, thank you.”
That’s small town friendliness for you. This was my first visit to the store. She didn’t know me from Adam’s house cat. Happy cows or not, the people are nice.
Today, my guy and I head off to the fish fry.
Going to a local festival is a great way to learn about your community and meet people. Turns out, the Flopeye Restaurant was not having a fish fry.
The Great Falls’ neighborhood of Flopeye was having the fish fry—so named because, according to the lady we met at the community planning stand, a local merchant would sit in front of his general store watching traffic. His eye lids would flop over his eyes. Someone passing by asked who was that old flop-eyed man?
He’s no longer there, but the name stuck.
We found a place to park. There was a huge traffic jam.
We ate some really good fried fish. And met some nice folks. This guy knows his stuff. Great fish. Real onion rings.
We bought a raffle ticket to support the food pantry from a beauty queen and her sales manager.
Met a civil War soldier and saw his medical supplies.
The kids had rides and a petting zoo.
The politicians and preachers all had a chance to yell at us.
And my guy, never one to pass up free popcorn, scored with a local politician.
A fun two hours. It’s on my calendar for next year.
* Doughboys : Hush puppies
Barefoot Hush Puppies
When you start frying that last batch of fish, pour the leftover meal into a mixing bowl, add more meal if skimpy. Add an egg and 1/2 cup more or less of small diced Spanish onions. Mix with buttermilk until consistency of thickish (but not stiff) pancake mix.
Place a small cup of water nearby to dip your spoon into between dollops.
After you’ve taken the last piece of fish out of the oil, you’re ready to make dough boys.
Take a soup spoon, dip into meal mixture and scoop out a spoon of dough in an egg shaped dollop. Slip dollop of meal into the oil.
Dip empty spoon into water, then back into meal mixture for next dollop. Slip that into oil. Dip spoon into water again and repeat process. Don’t overload your pot of oil.
Repeat several batches until done. Dollops of meal are done when medium dark brown. Break the first one in half to check center for doneness. You don’t want it mushy. This is basically fried cornbread balls. Drain alongside fish.
Until next time. Be sweet.