Shame to Waste the Hushpuppies

By Craig J. Clark

John pushed the plate away, having reached the point where further food consumption was undesirable. He had eaten everything on the plate except for three hushpuppies, which he didn’t have room for and didn’t feel like making room for. He didn’t want to waste them, but didn’t seem to have much choice in the matter. The first couple had gone down okay, but that was because he had had fish to eat with them. Now the fish were gone and the hushpuppies remained. The bland, virtually tasteless hushpuppies.

He has substituted them for the coleslaw that usually went with his meal, but he had regretted his choice almost immediately upon making it, largely because he had no idea what hushpuppies were. Clearly in the future it would behoove him to do a little research into his side order selections. They had given him a lot, too. A lot more than he felt comfortable eating at lunchtime and more than he felt comfortable with leaving uneaten. In retrospect, he should have gotten the 2 Fish Basket Combo, which would have cost less and come with a drink. Too late for regrets, though.

Even after having eaten several, John still had no idea what hushpuppies were. He speared one of the ones that remained with his fork and split it down the middle in order to investigate. Looked like a fried bread ball. He couldn’t imagine how they had ever caught on or how people who liked to eat them were supposed to eat them in the absence of anything else. Was he supposed to dip them into his leftover ketchup or tartar sauce or was that just gauche? And was it even possible to do anything gauche with a hushpuppy? He put the fork down with half a hushpuppy still attached. No use trying to force it.

He resolved when he got back to work to look up hushpuppies on Wikipedia. Then and only then would he know what he had consumed with vague dissatisfaction that afternoon. But first, to the soda dispenser to refill his $1.49 beverage. He had to try to get his money’s work somehow.

On his way out the door, after he dumped the contents of his tray into the garbage, John spotted the bell on the wall and read the sign that accompanied it. No, he would not be ringing the Captain’s Bell today, thank you.

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Ah, the hushpuppy -- le chiot de silence -- a culinary diversion rarely remarked upon in American fiction. Your story went a long way towards changing that. It's been nigh on two decades since I myself have supped on 'pups, but I can safely say that my own experiences align with those of your beleaguered protagonist.

According to the "wikipedia" entry. the path to freedom and civil rights may well have been forged in part by hush puppies. That makes me like them even more (and I already like them quite a bit, though a recent health development means I probably shouldn't eat as many as I would like).

In my prime, I would have probably blown a load if I had been given what your character felt were "too many" HPs; and yet I can sympathise with his slaw urge. Cole slaw is one of those things that is hard to get excited about, but which often satisfies deeply.

Nice piece. I like how neurotic John is; that he actually worries over what to dip his HPs in. Dip them in anything, I would say, were I in your story and dining with him. It's Long John Silver's, not some state dinner honouring the Duke of Savoy.

I've had them at LJS, I've had them at Treacher's. I think I once ordered them at a higher-falutin' fish place. The concept of the pup holds promise, the execution, however, leaves much to desire. I've never had a hush puppy that was any more than bland.

John should have gone to effin' Quizno's instead.

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This page contains a single entry by Craig J. Clark published on July 24, 2008 10:10 AM.

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