Earlier this week – last Sunday to be exact – I made a day trip down to the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois. As usual, I stopped in Marion and picked up Mike Ward, who served with me a long time ago in the Vietnam War.
On this trip, we checked out Burden Falls and Rim Rock Trail, and I photographed a lot of the downstate countryside. And we stopped in Elizabethtown for a scrumptious lunch of river catfish – a highlight of the day's trek.
The tasty catfish is served up at the E-Town River Restaurant along the Ohio River in Elizabethtown. The catfish are caught right there in the river, where the floating restaurant is tied up. Mike and I ate lunch there two years ago and especially enjoyed their fried catfish, so we decided to stop again Sunday.
For such an ugly fish, catfish are mighty tasty – that is, if they're wild and fresh-caught catfish. I do not like farm-raised catfish. Farm cats have a rather unpleasant flavor that I assume comes from the food pellets they are fed. However, wild catfish don't have that flavor, and they don't taste fishy either. The have mild, firm, delicious meat.
Do you know that a catfish has approximately 100,000 taste buds, whereas a human has only about 10,000 taste buds? I can't imagine how remarkable catfish would taste to me if I had 100,000 taste buds. A catfish flavor explosion would erupt inside my mouth!
I'll just have to settle on the 10,000 taste receptors I have and count on the chief catfish cookers at the E-Town River Restaurant to fix me up with their crispy fried renditions of incredibly delicious catfish and the resulting flavor explosions, implosions and eruptions inside my mouth and down my gullet.
E-Town's best menu selection, in my humble opinion, is the River Catfish Special, which features a half-pound of fried river catfish, baked beans, coleslaw, hush puppies and choice of potato. Their tarter sauce is delicious, too, as was the unsweetened iced tea I was served. I was totally full and satisfied when I finished all that succulent catfish and luscious sides and cold, brisk tea. I waddled off the floating restaurant, and Mike and I headed off into the Shawnee National Forest to hike off some calories on the Rim Rock Trail.
Today is the Fourth of July, and I usually celebrate our Independence Day with good ole American hot dogs; or a big, juicy, double-decker cheeseburger; or some pork ribs slathered in barbecue sauce. So, I won't be eating any catfish today.
However, I'll catch a couple of catfish this coming week at the creek or at the lake and prepare them perfectly in butter and garlic. But I won't wait another two years for some of that delectable fried catfish at the E-Town River Restaurant down yonder in Elizabethtown. I'll be back, E-Town.