News and Opinion from Anne Barone to Keep You Chic & Slim

16 August 2015

Sugared Catfish: Revised Opinion Thanks to Voltaire

I believe I can safely say that Voltaire never ate sugared catfish. But an admonition from the 18th century French philosopher has made me revise my previous opinion about the seasonings mix my brother and sister-in-law use to cook their catfish.

In the previous Nouvelles (see below), when I wrote about “sugared catfish,” I left out certain information. For a reason.

I did not give you the name of the brand of seasonings mix I was given in which to cook the catfish my brother gave me. Actually, the creator of this seasonings mix lives not far south of me. Close enough certainly for him to personally appear on my doorstep and tell me what he thinks of my comments about his product. I am a cautious person.

But I have been giving the product more thought in light of the French philosopher Voltaire’s warning the Perfect is the enemy of the Good.

In this case, the Perfect to my way of thinking would be that this seasonings mix did not contain any sugar.

But as Ann Leslie in New York pointed out in an email, at least the seasoning mix contains real sugar and not some version of high fructose corn syrup or modified corn starch. (The mix also contains no MSG — nor any gluten.)

My brother tells me that one 15-ounce container of this seasoning mix lasts him and my sister-in-law about a year. If you calculate that there was as much as 1 cup of sugar in this 15-ounce container, then that would be 48 teaspoons of sugar. Spread out over a year that works out to less than one teaspoon per week. And when this serves two people, that is less than 1/2 teaspoon per person per week.

On the plus side, my brother tells me that the recipe he and his friends are using for cooking fish, chicken, and other meats with this seasonings mix is to cook in olive oil, either in a skillet on top of the stove or to bake in an oven — or season meat on the grill.

For people who previously most often deep-fat-fried fish and chicken in lard or partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils, the olive oil is a healthy improvement. Certainly baking with only a moderate amount of oil added is an improvement over deep fat frying. Using the seasoning mix means these people are not so likely to eat their fish or chicken with liberal amounts of ketchup (lots of sugar) or “tartar sauce” (based on high-fat mayonnaise).

So even though sugar is the most prevalent ingredient (by weight) in Kenny’s All Purpose Seasonings, using this mix brings an improvement in the eating habits of the people who have enthusiastically adopted its use.

Will I be using the seasonings mix in my cooking? No, I don’t care for sweet with meat, fish or chicken. I don’t enjoy ham or the version of barbecue that contains sugar in the sauce. But I think, on balance, Kenny’s Seasonings Mix use has had a positive impact in reducing the amount of fat used in cooking meats and in encouraging the use of herbs and spices to add flavor.

Picasso, who introduced many innovations into art, commented that to get people to accept something new, you must incorporate into it something familiar. In this case, the new is the reduction in frying and the use of herbs and spices to season. The (too) familiar is the sweet taste of sugar.

At this point, it is tempting to quote what Mary Poppins said about the usefulness of sugar. But I have already combined Voltaire, Picasso and Sugared Catfish in one article. To throw in Mary Poppins would be taking things just a little too far.

Kenny Seasonings website welcome page image

If you want to know more about this seasonings mix I have been writing about, you can visit Kenny’s Seasonings website.

image: welcome page of Kenny's Seasonings courtesy of Kenny's website

|| 13 August 2015

Sugared Catfish?

My brother has been fishing. He brought me several packages of frozen catfish. (I am delighted.) Along with the fish, I was given a can of commercial seasoning that he and my sister-in-law assured me was the best thing that I could use in cooking the catfish.


Okay, I readily admit to a prejudice against prepared commercial seasoning mixes. I see no point in paying several dollars for ingredients that would only cost a few cents if you seasoned your food with the same spices from your spice shelf. Additionally, I prefer to use herbs and spices with no chemicals added to the mix. If garlic or onions go into the recipe, I do not like the powdered, processed version. I want fresh onions — and garlic from my own garden.

After brother and sister-in-law left, I looked at the label on this commercial seasoning mix with which I was cook the fish.

Uh, oh. The first ingredient was sugar. Sugar! For catfish?

Then came salt, black pepper, paprika, and lemon pepper, which in turn is more salt and black pepper with some citric acid, dried onion, more sugar and some sodium dioxide and dried garlic thrown in.

So why not just cook your fish with some onion and garlic and season it with some salt, pepper and paprika and then squeeze a lemon over the fish when you serve it?

I was assured that this was a very popular seasonings mix. Oh, dear. Have Americans reached the point that they feel it is necessary to add a generous quantity of sugar — even to catfish?

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone