As the election season creeps up all over the South fundraising fish fries pop up. Normally I try to stay away from them, partially because I had to cover so many while working for the newspapers and I really try to stay away from politics. Not to mention the food is usually a little substandard due to the amount of people who like to show up. It’s difficult to fry tender juicy fish for more than a thousand people, all who are planning on going back for at least a third plate.
This is not the case for the annual Friendly Chapel Fish and Fowl Dinner that benefits Brother Paul’s soup kitchen and shelter in North Little Rock. Every year thousands of folks show up to help raise funds and enjoy some really tasty fried fish. I mean they do a better job than some of the restaurants in town (not naming any names but the initials are Catfish City). Of course the cause is a good one too, so Katherine and I decided to get our fill of fried food. So did a lot of other people. A volunteer told us there were 21 cooks on hand. There’s even a takeout and refill line and swarms of volunteers walking around to refill your iced tea. The venue normally plays host to the bigger acts that come to town. Taylor Swift was there a few weeks back.
When it comes to a true fish fry everything is unhealthy. If you are really lucky there is okra and coleslaw as a vegetable option to go along with the french fries, fried chicken, fried shrimp, hush puppies, and of course fried fish. Naturally the okra is fried as well. But not every meal needs to be good for you.
Fish fry season is during Lent in Pittsburgh. Just about every Catholic church has one, with a to-go or curbside pickup option, Down at Benkovitz’s you can get a nice fried fish sandwich and they have malt vinegar you can sprinkle on the fish. No hush puppies in sight. And not healthy but fun to eat on occasion. A rare occasion. And the you are sorry you indulged.
You are so right. Good thing this only happens once a year.
I haven’t had a good fried fish/hushpuppies since I visited Raleigh, NC some years back.
Why does everything deep fried taste so good ??? My husband goes one step further and says everything that is deep fried, AND has bacon, tastes good 🙂
I love supporting charities and when it comes with super tasty food, all the better.
Here we are in the season for annual turkey socials – turkey and all the trimmings plus games and fun! The Knights of Columbus at church have a fish fry every week during Lent – talk about clogged arteries! And sometimes they are held for Relay for Life.
Oh my – I’m a little hungover, that picture looks amazing!!
Also – got to ask – what on earth are hush puppies, if they’re not just an old high street shoe shop!?
They’re basically fried balls of cornmeal. In the north the sometimes call the fritters and make them sweeter. Down here, they’re pretty savory.
You had me at ‘Hush Puppies’…the Little Southern Girl inside is crying right now…
My maternal grandparents lived in Pine Bluff (don’t hold it against me!) and there was a big fish fry down by the river every summer that we would go to with them…I don’t remember what the charity was, but it was probably church- or civic-related… Best catfish I ever ate, to this day…
Thanks for the memory, Greg!
Pine Bluff has some great old homes, we sort of hope one day it’ll come back.
Not with the local’s attitude, it won’t…all those statley homes from the days when cotton was king have been slowly rotting since I was a child…When I was down there 2 years ago, even the neighborhoods that used to be well-kept had fallen apart. The locals build new neighborhoods at the edge of town, and move off and leave the old. Sadly, there’s nothing there to draw young families that might give them new life…it’s tragic.
Nice write up! Loved the “there goes the breath” 😉
raw onion does create a few problems….
My mom lives in the middle of meat and potato Kansas and considers fried fish as eating healthy. Nice write up. I think fund raisers here in Denver are either Spaghatti/salad/garlic bread spreads or big pots of Chili.
Pass me the Hush Puppies! 😀
Fried food for a good cause 🙂 As far as the onion goes (or garlic), our rule is we both have to eat it, then we’re good to go!
Coolest way EVER to serve fried chicken. Just shield your eyes against all the grease soaking into the cardboard. 😉
talking about lazy sundays…i had pasta with chicken for breakfast!…and that plat-o-food looks so delish!
Fried food is the tops! Especially when someone else fries it for you and your house doesn´t smell stinky!
We fried okra this summer and it’ll be another five years before we fry in the house again. As for fried fish out, we got our fill Friday. We won’t be at another fish fry or catfish joint for sometime.
Oh, how I miss a good Southern fish fry. I only see them in Chicago during Easter when Catholics can’t eat meat on Fridays.
I’d be there in a minute. Eating fried food for a good cause, and I’m in!
I love the idea of eating buckets of fried food for a great cause.
Great meal for a great cause! Those hushpuppies and waffle fries look killer.
That is a lot of fish!! I am so glad you both enjoyed it for a good cause. It looks great.
Friday night fish fries! How I miss ’em. If, like this one, you happen upon a good one, it can be a surprisingly satisfying meal — all the more because you’re supporting a worthy cause. With 21 cooks on hand, this has to be one of the better ones in the country.
I wouldn’t mind this unhealthy choice of dishes, especially for a good cause. Every fish tastes better when it’s deep fried (actually many food products do).
I thought fish fries were only during Lent!! I’m not a fish fry kind of gal, but you sure made me feel like I’m really missing out on something good!
Not naming any names… you’re hilarious! I love that okra is common in your part of the world. Here it is quite unknown, almost exotic.
What a great cause and I love the menu. I could easily go back for seconds and thirds too. All fried goodness – my kind of break-the-diet-day. And I’m not naming names, but a few people with the initials of Greg and Katherine could certainly cause people to go back for fourths. Especially with the okra. 🙂
Wow I feel like I wanna workout just looking at those, dont get me wrong who does not love fat on their meals but those served are all fried even okra. 🙂
That’s a lot of fried food Greg; that a lot of food. Hope the benefit was a success.
Look at all those greasy soaked boxes…probably have enough flavor to eat them as well!
So, was it good? I was hoping for a summary! I’m guessing it probably was because as someone said above, it seems like everything deep-fried tastes insanely good (alas). As long as it’s crispy it’s hard to screw deep-fried stuff up *too* much, and as you say – live dangerously… not every meal needs to be healthy. I’d be going crazy there…. rawr!
The fish was excellent, so were the hush puppies. At a fish fry that’s all that counts. Plus, they kept the tea coming.
Ah yeah – endless amounts of delicious fried food and loads of tea to wash it down. Sounds like my kind of dinner, and even better if it’s for a good cause 🙂
Just seeing the grease-stained boxes is nearly enough to make me queasy. 😉 But I LOVE seeing the crowd of people supporting such a great cause. Very cool.
You know I would like this meal being from the South in all. Fried fish can’t be beat. It’s the other white meat!
From the photo, it looks like the whole state was there and that’s great for a worthy cause. Growing up in the south, I love hush puppies, especially if they are nicely seasoned.
This is so exciting and new to me, I have never heard of fundraising fish fries, but they sounds amazing and I really wish we had them here in Toronto!