My family Christmas meal began last week with a hellish trip by Rex and me into the deepest bowels of New Orleans suburbia to purchase a Cajun Flip-N-Fry for $14. We bought the south Louisiana cooking novelty from a woman in her Kenner garage. "You're lucky. This is my last one," she said.
Brother-in-law and Mom use the latest Cajun technology to coat catfish fingers for our not-so-traditional holiday meal.
My sister had called earlier in the week with instructions to buy the device, saying my brother-in-law needed it to coat catfish for our Christmas family lunch at their house.
I got back into the car and handed the Flip-N-Fry to Rex. He stared at it briefly. "This is a piece of Tupperware," he exclaimed in disbelief as he opened the lid of the translucent container and pulled out a perforated plastic divider. "This is Cajun technology?" he asked.
Yes, Rex, it is. Just like the Cajun Injector, an oversized syringe used to fill large pieces of meat with spicy juices. And the Cajun ChickCAN, a metal rack that positions a can of beer (or any other favorite canned beverage) in the "butt" of a chicken for "the most flavorful, moist" grilling experience ever, or so the manufacturer claims. Then there's Boudreaux's Butt Paste, no explanation needed.
Amazingly, the Flip-N-Fry seems to live up to its billing. My brother-in-law said he would have used five times more cornmeal for the Christmas catfish had he coated the pieces the old-fashioned way.
Catfish frying on the driveway, and the final result with fixings.
Joining the catfish on the table were baked potatoes, French fries, Asian cole slaw, corn and crawfish casserole, rolls and cheesecake for dessert.
Of course, south Louisianians are known for nontraditional holiday meals. Think of deep-fried turkeys and turduckens. My family hasn't had a typical Anglo Christmas meal in years. Usually, my brother-in-law makes a big pot of chicken and sausage gumbo, sided by potato salad and corn on the cob.
But this year's lunch likely stretched the limits of acceptable holiday cuisine ... even for these parts.