Thursday, July 26, 2007

Welcome to Catfish Bytes

Good morning…or good evening!

Whatever the time of day at your place, welcome to Catfish Bytes, a blog about life in Catfish Country.

While much of The South qualifies for that title, I live in Alabama’s Black Belt where catfish is king, and community is a big front porch with a great double door. Just go on in and help yourself to pot-luck suppers, church homecomings, historic pilgrimages and Friday night football.

Named for the color of its dirt, the Black Belt is a mostly rural area once covered by a shallow sea. Scientists come around now and then to dig up fossils of dinosaurs, sea turtles and other creatures. No kidding!

Then some 40-plus years ago, farmers discovered that if they dug a pond in the prairie clay, the hole would hold water. If they stocked it with catfish, the mineral-rich soil would help sustain their crop. Then, if they harvested the fish, buyers would come, ready to get the bounty home for a catfish fry!

That’s how a region that once was the Camelot of the Cotton Kingdom changed its identity. Yet, the Black Belt is known for a whole lot more…Spanish moss, wide prairies, antebellum mansions, hunting camps, rivers and more rivers, and well, a place where tourists come to see the authentic South!

It’s a destination explored by Hernando Desoto and trod by Civil War soldiers and Civil Rights activists. Visitors flock to heritage trails, museums and events.

It’s also a paradox— Old South and New South—a place where former sharecropper cabins still exist and foreign auto suppliers build parts for their cars.

It’s where the politics often has a deep-blue hue in a very red state.

It’s where the natives still say “y’all,” and California transplants live in Tara-type homes and say “you all.”

It’s been my home since I was barely walking, and before that, the home of my parents and grandparents.

So, welcome to my Place on the Blog where I’ll share Catfish Country with you: its heritage, its present, its people and their dreams, and oh yes, recipes…catfish for sure!

PHOTOS: Greensboro water tank and Magnolia Hall