Saturday, August 05, 2006

Dining in Fredericksburg, Texas

I heard a lot of laughter coming from my director's office yesterday as I was heading down the hall. Boss Lady (BL) was laughing, hard. She was telling a co-worker about her dining experience in a small neighboring town called Fredericksburg.

BL is not a native Texan, in fact, she's been here quite a while, but some things still strike her as funny. The experience of eating at a Chinese restaurant in Fredericksburg, Texas struck her funny bone as being peculiarly Texas-ass funny.

Not that I have anything against Fredericksburg. In fact, it's a very pretty town. Situated in the rolling hill country west of Austin, it has small vineyards and peach orchards, wonderful limestone ranch houses and picturesque artist cottages built by the hard-working Germans and Czechs who settled parts of central Texas in the 1800s. It’s not too far from Johnson City, site of the LBJ ranch.

Apparently BL went into a Chinese restaurant in this small town for lunch. It looked Chinese in the traditional decor one comes to expect on the outside and was even run by Chinese owners. So far, so good. But the owners had made some small accommodations to the locals.

The first thing BL noted inside was the abundance of deer heads on the walls, which clashed starkly with the traditional Chinese decor. The other thing that struck her as odd was the presence of cream gravy on the menu. Apparently, many Texans found that they had extra rice at the end of the meal and wanted some cream gravy to top it off. Just their version of soul food.

Ah, Texas, gotta love it. Time isn't the only thing that gets distorted here.

39 Comments:

At 3:34 PM, Blogger betmo said...

i don't particularly think of gravy as a compliment to rice. i see what you mean about texas- i would have laughed too. :)

 
At 3:52 PM, Blogger Lorraine said...

I've heard very nice things about Fredricksburg. And yet, I too struggle with the cream gravy on rice concept...

 
At 4:32 PM, Blogger glenda said...

Well, it's sort of a southern thing, some people put gravy on mashed potatoes, on grits and on rice.

 
At 4:56 PM, Blogger Candace said...

The best Tex-Mex we've ever had was in London. It's a Gene Street owned and operated restaurant called The Texas Embassy Cantina (Texas used to have an embassy there, ya know.) I'll probably do a post about it soon. Anyway - cream gravy on rice? That's good eats.

 
At 5:12 PM, Blogger Peacechick Mary said...

Gravy on anything that doesn't move or maybe on things that move slowly!

 
At 5:48 PM, Blogger Grish said...

I would probably think it was funny but I was raised gravy heavy. lol

If I ever get potatoes or rice it's instinct to look for the gravy. Now as far as grits go...well I haven't eaten them in my adult life but maybe once or twice. Though as a youngster my grandparents had them for breakfast alot. I'll save you the other mixed in ingrediants but there was always gravy involved lol.

 
At 6:57 PM, Blogger Rory Shock said...

oh, yeah, I love it ... cream gravy on the lo mein ... one of my favorite chinese places was Big Wong's (I shit you not) in Colby Kansas ... but they didn't have no gravy ...

 
At 7:06 PM, Blogger glenda said...

Candace, I'm shocked! London? did they boil the enchiladas?
Mary, hi!!
grish, i love grits! but no gravy!
rory...yeah ,you know what I mean!

 
At 7:09 PM, Blogger PTCruiser said...

I wonder if they serve Kung Pao steak there. With Texas chili on the side. (Picturing chinese chefs in the kitchen wearing ten-gallon hats.) OK, I'm finished now.

 
At 8:26 PM, Blogger The Fat Lady Sings said...

So when I was going to college in Austin lo those many years ago - I went out for pizza with some friends. The place was dark - hell, every place was dark back then - it was considered 'cool' to eat without any frickin light – what can I say, it was the ‘70’s. Point being - I couldn't even see to read the damn menu - let alone know what it was exactly in those shaker bottles at the table. I figured parmesan cheese. In California - Pizza Hut’s had parmesan cheeses in shaker bottles at every table. You'd think it would be the same in Texas but NOOOOOO!!! I get my slice of pepperoni - and do what I always did - load up on the parmesan. I really like cheese. I couldn't see it all that well - so I guessed at the amount and general direction of the pizza. Then I took a big, healthy bite. Mother of god! My mouth lit up like the 4th of July! Spitting the bite out had no ameliorating effect. My tongue still felt like I'd flambéed it. Oh – my friends had quite the laugh. Knew what to expect, you see. So off I run to the bathroom which was, fortunately, equipped with lights - to wash out the last of the red pepper flakes; because that what was in that shaker bottle. Not parmesan like any normal pizza place – hot bloody peppers. Why? ‘Cause it was Texas - that’s why! And Texans evidently like red pepper flakes on their pepperoni slices. What is it with you people? Do you all come equipped with ironclad mouths or something? Sweet Bertha in the mornings! I mean - there shoulda been a sign! “Danger Will Robinson! Attack peppers ahead!” It was horrible. I never went back there again. And it was the last time I trusted eating anything I couldn’t see!

 
At 10:20 PM, Anonymous karena said...

Fat Lady,
I've always sprinkled my pizza with a generous portion of both red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese. Hmmm, I am trying to remember but I think we did that in Tennessee and of course we do that in Texas.

I think it is really sweet that the Chinese restaurant made sure that the local patrons got gobs of cream gravy to take home with the oversized portions of rice always served, but why the heck did the local patrons not just take home the remaining rice and make their own gravy for of it like some of us more civilized Texans would? They seem a bit demanding if you ask me. "Hey, I'll take home a bucketfull of that extra rice in a doggy bag, but could you throw in some chicken fried steak with that?"

The deer heads crack me up.

Have you ever been to Rather Sweet Bakery up there? I've heard it's great.

 
At 12:41 AM, Blogger DA said...

I'd top loads of gravy on Condoleeza Rice

 
At 12:45 AM, Blogger sumo said...

Thank goodness for California cuisine... tofu, sushi, veggies, veggie burgers, lucious fruits and did I say veggies? I hear people like to eat biscuits and sausage gravy for breakfast...ewww. Yeah we don't know how to eat here, that is why we are called kooks...I guess.

 
At 4:04 AM, Blogger No said...

I'll have to go there next time I'm visiting..sounds too good to pass up!

 
At 5:30 AM, Blogger Sue Woo said...

HA! That is so funny. I love me some rice and gravy MMMMM.

I was recently in Thibodeux LA assess kids (glenda, maybe you got that email from Westover?) and I went to the sushi place. The Lorean host said "How y'all are?" when I entered. Sushi was on the buffet beside baked salmon, hot and sour soup, crawfish and puddin for dessert. It was a Southern sushi fan's heaven. No lite soy however!

 
At 7:13 AM, Blogger Lew Scannon said...

Hasn't anyone in Texas heard of soy sauce?

 
At 7:59 AM, Blogger Changeseeker said...

Glenda, I know this is off-topic, but I'm tagging you this morning if you haven't already answered the book questions that are making the rounds. See this.

 
At 8:27 AM, Blogger bluegrrrrl said...

The deer heads would have sent me running for the door...

I do love milk gravy from time to time...but it never occurred to me to ask for it in a Chinese restaurant. There's this little diner in Ozona that serves up the best biscuits and milk gravy...

 
At 8:54 AM, Blogger glenda said...

Ha! Sue woo...no I didn't get the email...what was it?
Lew..well, we do use soy sauce..although I prefer tamari myself, they rarely have it in restaurants. This is just regional quirkiness.
changeseeker, no have not seen it, will check it out now on your referral.
bluegrrrrl, Hi, oh, I love milk gravy, especially on turkey at Thanks giving, but I try so hard to eat right the rest of the year!

 
At 9:10 AM, Blogger fallenmonk said...

When I was growing up grits were on the table with breakfast every morning as were fresh biscuits and sawmill gravy. Every once in a while when there was country ham we would have red eye gravy which is made by deglazing the ham frying pan with black coffee. Cream gravy was a required side when you were having fried chicken and mashed potatoes.
In the old south it was almost unheard of to have breakfast without some kind of pork and fresh biscuits.
My grandfather had four requirements that had to met at every meal or there would be hell to pay...hot bread, pork (even if there was other meat), beans and stewed fruit. You would never sit down at the table for any meal at his house where those four things weren't on the table with everything else.

 
At 9:25 AM, Anonymous karena said...

Fallonmonk, I see you are from Georgia. In Tennessee I had a relative, and uncle, and there were always two meats served at every meal, on one was always country ham. You could have meatloaf, fried chicken, beef stew, whatever, but you better have a slab of country ham on the table too, plus home made bisquits. Every meal. The stewed fruit was not part of the equation, but a lunch and dinner you had to have lemonade and iced tea, both. One time during the T.V. hour he piped up and said he wanted canned peaches packed in his lunch the next day. I thought, "Well that's a simple request," until my Aunt hopped up and started canning fresh peaches. She never did get to see the end of the game show she was watching.

 
At 9:33 AM, Blogger Sue Woo said...

Oh my gosh karena that is funny! Poor Auntie!

My greatgrandaddy ate a raw ear of corn he picked himself every morning for breakfast.

Grits are the best. Whenever I'm feelin'a little weenie, I fix me some-down here in SC we eat them with shrimp. YUM.

glenda, Westover consultants had a grant to do mental health assessments for hurricane survivors, stipend volunteer. If they do it again (God forbid) I'll forward the notice to you. I went twice.

 
At 9:47 AM, Blogger Omnipotent Poobah said...

Glenda,
First, love the clock. Very hip. Very Dali.

When I first moved to California there was a "Chinese Hofbrau" near us. After several months it dawned on me that "hofbrau" was the local Californese for "cafeteria". Oddly, everything was authentically Asian except for the Thursday Special, corned beef and cabbage.

There also used to be a Korean Cowboy bar near us. Sure enough, you could cruise by and see dozens of Asian men and women dressed like...well, like Texans hanging around the door.

 
At 10:19 AM, Blogger glenda said...

fallenmonk, hi!
I know. My grandfather had a cattle ranch near Fort worth and the same was pretty true in their household. But they all worked hard physically and were lean ranchers despite eating lots of high-fat foods.

karena, hi, and it wasn't just tea, but sweet tea here where you steep the tea bags in sugar and hot water, then add the lemons and ice. there was an art to the timing and my grandmother always ulled mint from the garden to garnish the tea. Also, we ate a lot of summer squash cooked with bacon.

sue woo, thanks for the tip. That would be pretty cool to go down there. We worked with some of the Katrina survivors at the convention center when they were housed here afer the hurricane and my brother and his wife went every saturday to the same in Dallas. But I've also got a full-time social work/art job, so dunno. Send me the info, though. If you come join thepeacetrain.org, we can IM there! I plan to shoot a film down on the border this fall on the plight of immigrant women in the colonias!

omnipotent pohbah!
Haha. So it's hip to be a cowboy? not since "Urban Cowboy" would I have thunk it, although that is a cowboy of a different hipness. I feared Bush has made that term a dirty word.

 
At 3:06 PM, Blogger JBlue said...

Apparently the Chinese restaurants around here are trying to accommodate families because I'm seeing lots of pizza turn up on the buffets. Also, chicken "fingers" and fries. But at least I can now get my kids to go out for Chinese (pizza) with me.

 
At 4:48 PM, Blogger glenda said...

Haha, JBlue , that was the idea....i's a model certain to please he entire family...but tell, why the deer horns here...I just don't get it!

 
At 12:15 PM, Blogger JBlue said...

Glenda, that's to get those husbands in and get them acculturated...?

 
At 4:21 AM, Blogger glenda said...

Ah, you are so right! Makes the guys feel right at home. All the need is to pull a Laz-E-Boy up to the table and bring a Lone Star longneck.

 
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