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Friday, August 29, 2014

August is National Catfish Month!

 “The catfish is a plenty good enough fish for anybody”

-Mark Twain

When you think of Southern food, what comes to mind?  Would it be deep fried catfish?  Catfish has been a Southern dish for centuries, and remains one of the most recognized Southern cuisines.  “Catting,” a term referring to fishing for catfish, was considered a sport as well as a means of obtaining food.  Catfish are known for their tempers and putting up a fight before being pulled to shore.  When a Southerner calls someone “real catfish” or “mean as a catfish” they are comparing their temper to that of a catfish.  

Picture from Mississippi Catfish on Parade  
So, why are catfish so popular in the South?  In 1995, MLC even had a catfish mascot that would visit Mississippi public libraries, parades, and school programs.  If y'all find any pictures of the Catfish mascot from MLC feel free to share it with us.  Catfish farming became a livelihood for many farmers that no longer wanted to grow cotton.  According to The Catfish Institute, “ninety-four percent of all U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish is raised in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.”  Catfish thrive in the hot summers that occur in Mississippi and other southern states.

However, catfish are not only found in the South.  There are over 2,000 species of catfish around the world.  The largest recorded catfish came from Thailand measuring 8 feet in length and weighting 646 pounds.  This type of catfish is known as the Mekong giant catfish, and is native to Southeast Asia.

Picture by Marshall Ramsey from Mississippi Catfish on Parade

If you would like to know more about catfish and catfish farming, stop by the Mississippi Library Commission to check out our resources.

Culberson, Linda Crawford. The Catfish Book. Jackson: U of Mississippi, 1991. Print
 Ford, Gil. Mississippi Catfish on Parade, Jackson, Mississippi : A Project of the Mississippi Commission for International Cultural Exchange, Inc. Brandon, MS: Quail Ridge, 2003. Print
 Schweid, Richard. Catfish and the Delta: Confederate Fish Farming in the Mississippi Delta. Berkeley, Calif.: Ten Speed, 1992. Print.

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