By Allen Hamrick
Hey folks, Zeb here ‘bout to scratch you out a tale you ain’t gonna believe. Here in our neck of the woods, we like our food. Now, some like those critters from the big water that have to be imported here from Zeke’s Freight. Zeke is a farmer who lives just outside of Waterbutt Holler, so named for its deep swimming hole at the forks of the hills. He uses his Oliver tractor and wagon to haul wood and lumber, but his big ticket item is haulin’ fancy livin’ folks up here their sea food so they can feel like they are sophisticated like them city folks. They don’t eat at Lolie’s Café and Eatery or Maude’s diner; they only eat at Carmellyo’s. It’s a fancy, smug diner that has candles and a feller running around sawin’ on a fiddle tryin’ to make eatin’ better, but I have my doubts. They also say they have the finest imitation steak and grittiest grits in the area, but I ain’t never eat there so the rumors are strickly her say or him say.
The fancy pants place is ran by a flame haired gal called Carmellio Van Smithachelli, or Caravan for short, who believes she has the only non stinkin’ arm pits in the area. Her head is so high above where it’s supposed to be that she has to be given a special weather forecast just for her head. She has accepted the self proclaimed crown to be the queen of the high society movement here in the hills. Her goal is to have all the wives, including ours, eating sardines out of one of her hands all the while she has the other hand digging out what money they have left. “Remember, pinky finger up ladies,” she says as they enter her eatery.
Zeke’s job is to keep her happy and get the sardines to Carmellyo’s before too many of them thaw out. It is truly a dangerous job to take on the task of getting that fancy fish up in these hills. First off, he has to travel fast enough to keep the fish from thawing out. Soon as it does, every mountain lion, house cat, bobcat or fisher cat lays dibs on the thawing pile of sardines. All other animals run the other way when Zeke comes up the hill. The foul smell that fills the air is only for the fancy eaters, cats and buzzards. The cats came from every nook and cranny in the hills and nearly wiped out the supply during last week’s sardine raid.
Most folks are fine with the eats at home, Maude’s or Lolie’s. With food like theirs, there is no way common folk would go anywhere else. On the menu at Maude’s Diner is a local lunch favorite, mud sucker sandwich with sides, and at dinner it’s the cluck a doodle doo meal, a sliced slab of chicken breast laying on a bed of tater pellets and gravy; it is lip smacking, cross yer legs eatin’. For the couple out for a romantic dinner, Maude throws in the wish bone for some after dinner wishing and teeth picking. At Lolie’s, the menu is one of the hottest meals in the hills; it’s called Jackass Scrapin’ and is made up of a tongue and gut burnin’ plate full of thinly sliced barbecued hog and steer meat sittin’ on top of what she calls taters mammy. It’s so called due to only Jackasses and goats have the stomach for it. However, every Saturday evenin’ they come from all over to take on Jackass Scrapin’. Last Saturday, 12 went to the hospital for tongue burns and 16 to the fire department to get their stomachs put out with a hose.
The diners will never have one of the most loved dinners in the hills anymore and that’s a big plate of bull frog legs fried to perfection. The hills used to be full of frogs, and they populated like grass until last year’s Black Friday sale on hounds at Culpeper’s Ridge. A huge plott hound called Mott got loose, and they ain’t been nobody been able to catch that frog lovin’ animal. Usually a frog will spit out some kinda nasty tastin’ fluid that makes a dog wince, but Mott uses it like ketchup. So, Mott the Plott raids every pond and water source in search of the frog. None are safe nor ever will be until he is caught. The night critter sounds we all love to hear that usher in fall will be without their bass line – the bull frog. Those nights when you feel a squish on the bottom of your foot…gone. The days of belchin’ after a meal of froggy legs…gone. There was an attempt to capture Mott by Pap’s son Pip. Pip dressed in a frog Halloween outfit, set by one of the local ponds known to have giant bull frogs and waited. Before Pip knew what hit him, Mott had ripped off the frog skin covering and Pip fell into the pond. Scores of bull frogs came out of the water and jumped on Mott in an attempt to take him down once and for all – one final attempt to save themselves from being extinct. You could have heard them frogs screamin’ death to Mott from miles away. In the little bit of time that it took for the frogs to realize that their weapon bag had only a tongue in it and Mott’s had teeth, it was too late. No matter how many times they licked, it was over in a matter of seconds. Once again, Mott the Plott had won. There was no doubt that there would no longer be a frog leg dinner on the menu until …