February 23, 1968
The pinto beans simmered for 10 hours and were loaded with bacon and onion. Cornbread and coleslaw were set up in proper order on the serving line, and Sumo was deep frying the fish in gooey a cornmeal batter. We decided to disguise the fish by cutting each palm-sized filet diagonally. The smaller portions looked more like fish and chips.
First Sergeant Culverhouse was behind the line serving the beans and coaching everyone on the “Southern Style” (first a layer of cornbread, topped with hot pinto beans and finally coleslaw). He kept saying, “Don’t forget the catfish.” The troops believed him and his slow Southern accent . . . it became a staple meal every Friday on Hill 65.
Calling OCEAN PERCH “catfish” (I never did) rubbed me wrong, but the Marines loved it as a reminder of a home cooked meal. The smells of the cornbread and fried fish filled the tropical air, and there were comments, “This reminds me of Biloxi” or “I had this in Galveston.”
Later in the evening Sumo commented about the dinner, “Even the officers liked it.” The meal seemed to melt away the boundaries of class. Interestingly, none of the items were cooked from the Navy/Marine Corps recipe guide — it was all freestyle.
Next Edition: Beer in the Mess Hall?