by Stephanie Jane Carter
An early morning run (or a drive to Manchac, Louisiana) may not always get me out of bed on a Saturday, but the idea of refueling with Middendorf’s famous thinly sliced fried catfish helps. This past Saturday, the Middendorf’s 5K and 10-mile run was held in recognition of the Manchac restaurant’s 75th anniversary. The weather (breezy, gentley drizzling with overcast skies) was reasonably good for running, but apparently very bad for frying catfish. Before the 8 AM start-time, race officials announced that Middendorf’s power was out and the outlook for catfish consumption was dimming. I expected a collective sigh and a few people to turn around and head back to their cars, which did not happen. The cheerful runners gathered under the start-gate and gazed up at the hill that would commence the run.
Middendorf’s hosted a delightful run that managed to illustrate an important lesson rarely practiced in our notably chubby society. It is okay to eat things like fried food sometimes, as long as they are balanced by the appropriate physical activity. We can celebrate food, in all of its manifestations, while maintaining our health. The race also seemed to make a point about those who are too focused on their physique. That can be nearly impossible to maintain or enjoy, without some indulgences. Denying oneself something all the time (whether it is an indulgence like fried catfish or a commitment to physical health), is never a safe place to be.
Around 10 a.m., due to some bad advice from the woman manning the Michelob Ultra Stand for thirsty post-race runners, my group left with bellies hungry for catfish but temporarily sated with Chee Wees’s. According to the New Orleans Track Club, “Even with an area power outage that was not fixed until 9:30 AM Middendorf’s Restaurant managed to quickly cook and serve their signature fried thin catfish with cole slaw and potato salad to all in attendance in a matter of a few minutes.” (www.notc.org) Perhaps another lesson here, which I failed at, was patience. There may have been a promise of fried catfish, but it was still Saturday morning and my brain just wasn’t all there.
Running, food, and balance, and community for all those solitary runners – it was worth waking up for.