Big River Magazine
Mississippi River stories and news


Carp -- Queen of Rivers or Pig With Fins?
(Big River, Nov. 1993)

Stop carping and start cooking - recipes and tips for cooking carp
(PDF, Big River, Sept. 2004)

2012 Carp Connoisseur Challenge

2011 Carp Connoisseur Challenge Winners


Big River Magazine
January-February 2012

 Serving Carp at a Local Bar

By Bill Charlesworth

Elding, who has lived on the Mississippi River as long as he can remember, is being interviewed. He quickly finds the interview boring and asks Samantha, the interviewer, if he can tell her a bar story.

Elding: "May I tell you a bar story about carp? It won't take long."

Samantha: "Er. Of course." (reluctantly puts her clipboard on the floor)

E: It's really short. A carp goes into a bar next to the River."

S: (nods)

E: "And the bartender says, 'You're in luck. Our water pipe broke so we're serving carp toay. They can swim right in here and have a beer and something to eat.'"

S: (smiles) "Sounds good."

E: "And the carp says, 'Great. What's on the menu?' And the bartender says, 'We're serving carp.' Then the carp says, 'Wow! But what are you serving carp customers?' And the bartender says, 'Carp, of course: it's on the menu.'"

S: "Uh, oh."

E: 'Hang on.' The bartender is prepared. 'It would be discrimination if we didn't serve carp to carp customers.'"

S: "That's right. The bartender could be given a citation for discrimination against customers just because they happened to be carp."

E: "Right on, but the carp isn't convinced. The bartender then says, 'I'll level with you. We're serving carp because the water pipe broke and carp are the only ones that can swim in here.' And the carp says, 'That sounds reasonable but encouraging cannibalism in carp is a federal offense. You could get in serious trouble for that.'"

S: "Right. Carp are not stupid. But…"

E: "Right. Did you hear this before?" (suspiciously)

S: (smiles) "Never."

E: "Then the bartender gets defensive. 'Look. The Mississippi has lots of carp and when the water pipe breaks, we serve carp. It helps pay the bills.' And the carp replies, 'What! You serve those dirty carp from the bottom of the Mississippi?'"

S: "Wow! I din't expect that!"

E: "I knew you would find this joke exciting. Then the bartender looks hard at the carp. 'You're not a carp. You're a cop…a cop…dressed as a carp.' The carp smiles as only as smart carp can. 'No sir. I am a plumber looking for work.' 'Oh,' says the bartender, 'I don't need a plumber. The water pipe doesn't need fixing. It's just that the toilet has overflowed but it will go down and besides I don't pay for plumbers.'"

S: "Oh, my! Where is this going?"

E: "Don't worry; it's going to be OK. Then the carp says, 'I thought so. So that's why this place stinks. I'm going to tell my relatives never to come here. But I'd still like that beer you promised me.' The bartender looks at the carp. 'I did?' 'You did,' says the carp. 'And if you don't pour one for me, I'll call the better business authorities.'"

S: "Hooray! Carp gets a break!"

E: "Right."

S: "Then what?"

E: "Then the bartender pours him a beer and the carp drinks it slowly. 'Hmm, much better than the Mississippi.' The bartender then says, 'You better believe it. But it still has a bit of the Mississippi flavor in it — not much, but just enough so carp can truly enjoy it.'"

S: "Smart move. Very smart move on the part of the bartender."

E: "You betcha. But then, then comes the real exciting part…The carp says, 'Well, I gotta get outta here.' 'That'll be one buck,' says the bartender."

S: "Oh!"

E: "The carp smile and says, 'Can't pay you sir. Carp have no pockets. You should know that.' And the carp swims away, smiling broadly."

S: "Good for him. That was very interesting."

E: "I knew you'd like it." (smiles broadly)

From the play, "The Interview" (2010) by B. Charlesworth