Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Debby Kaspari walks toward a novel gustatory experience at Meer's Store, Meers, Oklahoma.
I could have done without the feral cats climbing all over the dumpster and waiting for handouts outside the door (not usually an indicator of fine dining within) but wading through them would be worth it in the end.
Thanks to Tim and Debby's guidance and considerable culinary skills, I had several memorable meals in Oklahoma. One for which I fervently wished I'd brought my camera was a meal of fried chicken and okra at Eischen's Bar near Duck, OK, alleged to be the state's oldest bar. Dark as a cave and set in its ways, Eischen's serves a huge basket of exquisite fried chicken with sides of fried okra (burp!) and pickles (there's your vegetable.) With this repast comes nothing but napkins and a sheet of waxed paper. No utensils, no plates, just cave man style.
I quickly got the idea that mine was not to question the wisdom of such primitive service, perhaps thanks to our waitress' T-shirt, which read, "It takes 49 muscles for me to frown at you, but only two for me to DOPE SLAP you." She looked like she was ready to do it, too. Oh, for a hidden Instamatic. But it was so dark in there, all the shades drawn on a rainy day, that she'd have been a gray-haired blur.
I thought I'd had OK's finest meal, for Eischen's chicken was truly divine, until we went to Meer's Store near the Wichita Mountains NWR. Meer's is famous for its longhorn burgers. Now, I can't imagine offing an animal this magnificent just for steaks and burgers, but Meer's raises them just for that.
Here's the proprietor, probably some years ago.
I loved this restaurant right away because it had a cranky menu, full of proclamations about the "only way" to eat or serve a hamburger, about the vastly superior nutritional value of longhorn meat versus any other beef; about the history of the place and how you should hang your head if you want your burger cooked any other way than the way it should be cooked.
It was full of signs and little weirdnesses.
Please, can I have a burger, sir?
Wild turkey sez nuh-uh.
Reminders that Oklahoma's history is still being played out are everywhere.
I watched and read enough Westerns in my childhood to have an involuntary shiver ripple down my spine just seeing the word. The Comanches took their violent objection to manifest destiny to creative new levels.
I was so glad to see a hot tamale vending machine. I didn't even know they still made them.
Not to mention a gumball machine shaped like a saguaro. I mean, where would you get one of those if you wanted one? And oh, I do want one. I'd put it in our foyer and fill it with healthy snacks, feathers, galls, seeds and animal droppings in capsules, just waiting to be identified. No, I wouldn't. I just said that for effect.
We amused ourselves with the signage for a long time.
I have been looking for a cure for hog mange and sheep scab. And let's not even talk about screw worms! Thank goodness for Cooper-Tox. That's what you want to spray on your livestock.
But at last, our appetites thus whetted, it was time to eat.
We chose a table on the upper level, the better to survey the clientele and the decor.
Drinks were served in Mason jars. I had a tantalizing peek into the kitchen from my chair, which nearly tipped over backward thanks to the off-kilter flooring. You could roll a bowling ball from one end of this place to the other without a push.
We all ordered Meersburgers, and Debby added an inspired order of a basket of fried green tomatoes.
The food was simply spectacular. The fried tomatoes came with a ranchy dip that set them off perfectly. Almost forgot the cheesy chili fries, which I avoided. The fried green tomatoes would be plenty enough, and I still hadn't fully processed the Eischen's chicken and okra. Mmmmf. I come from the land of salads. Oklahoma cuisine would eventually kill me stone daid. But I'd die with a smile on my face.
Groaning with effort, we cleaned up our meals and ordered peach cobbler for three. We were not disappointed. Whatever cinnamon Meer's uses, it is much the finest cinnamon I've ever tasted.
The waitress said they order the finest spices available from a special spice house. The ice cream was homemade.
I now have to excuse myself and go gorge on something. I'm afraid it will not be fried green tomatoes, a Meersburger, or spicy peach cobbler, but I guess I'll survive.
His arms creaked and swung in the wind. Reeka reeka reeka.