You now can read for free Rick Bragg's ode to grouper sandwiches
For many Southerners, nothing goes quite as well with summer as a fresh grouper sandwich. But these days finding the real thing can be hit or miss
I love fishing stories, which some people equate with lies. I do not believe this is always true. I think weird things happen when you step boldly off firmer earth, and commence to float. This is my new favorite.
Jimbo Meador, outdoorsman, writer, and other things, was fishing the Yucatán about forty years ago. Not far away, a tiny man, a Mayan he believes, was fishing with a hand line from a tiny boat. Suddenly, the tiny man and his tiny boat went shooting across the water. The tiny boat did not have a motor.
He had hooked a Goliath grouper, and it was taking him for a ride.
"Like The Old Man and the Sea," said Meador's friend Skip Jones, who grew up, like Meador, not far from Mobile Bay.
The tiny man hung on, and on, and on.
Finally, he had his prize, and got the weary fish, hundreds of pounds of it, back to the dock.
The tiny man ran a rope through the grouper's massive maw and gills. "Tied it to a post," Meador said, like a horse.
There was no electricity there, no ice. So they tied the live fish to the dock to swim, to keep, till they decided it was time to eat.
Meador told it at lunchtime over fried chicken, since there was no grouper to be had. As the story hung in the air, as all good stories will, I was not thinking of hot weather in exotic places, or fish fights, or Hemingway.
I pictured a five-gallon bucket of tartar sauce, and a hundred hamburger buns.
Just how many sandwiches, I wondered, would that big ol' boy have made? Keep reading.