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Eating Oklahoma

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.


You had me at "huge basket of exquisite fried chicken", but THAT cobbler mountain was just tooo much!

My kind of place. Inquiring minds wish to know how much time elapsed between the two meals. Because I'd say (and I speak from experience) that not enough time between such meals could land one in the emergency room.

This is JUST the sort of cuisine I threw up a month ago! And I have to agree--it was good both ways.

Nicely done! Was a fun read!

Posted by Anonymous May 25, 2010 at 2:07 PM

I, too, hail from the land of salads.
But it does sound good, the cobbler, especially.
And given the exhaustion that can follow a day of vigorous birding, I would imagine there was a good part of that meal that was immediately used for refueling.
What would travel be without indulging oneself in the pride of a local eatery?

Loved it! I grew up with that kind of down-home cookin'. Apparently Oklahomans colonized Central Florida at some point, except here it was Brahman cattle. Them bramers was plumb good eatin'.

The screw worm comment woke some memories. Screw worm flies and whale meat...a blast from the past.

Well land of salad people - not sure where that Mason-Dixon line of healthy eating runs in Ohio - but Dayton was sure not on the leafy green side - unless you're talking iceberg lettuce wedges smothered in blue cheese dressing. Come to think of it - Akron wasn't either. All I remember is potato skins with bak'n-bits and chicken wings. Oh and elephant ears. Oh and potato pancakes stacked six inches high and slathered in sour cream. Oh and towering ice cream sundae's at Friendly's. Bob Evans. Skyline Chili - spaghetti, chocolate and chili - helllloooooo! Crispy Cream donuts were a mainstay in Ohio a decade before the rest of the country got them. Just say'n.

Duly corrected and humbled too, TR. I was referring to a tiny geographical anomaly called Indigo Hill where salads are still considered a meal. I do come from the land where women waddle and men thunder, the land down under the healthy eating line. In fact when we first moved to southern Ohio I asked Bill if it was required to get really fat to fit in.
I do love to get a Leo's dander up. Hee hee hee.

We had a Krispy Kreme in Richmond VA in the 60's--many a late-night visit there when I was in high school to watch the doughnuts roll off the belt (and onto our beltlines)

What a BOTB giant thing type of post.
And all those wonderful signs, oh my!
I gotta get me out to Oklahoma for a sign tour. Food sounds good too...... that wasn't fried prairie chicken was it?

Word verification - cheau
as in did you cheau your food before swallowin"

I'm with Tim. Normally after a trip to the Midwest or South we eat nothing but arugula for several days. We were shocked, I tell you, SHOCKED, at the amount of salad (with something other than iceberg) that we were served in W Va.

I have known Joe, the owner, for many years and have sold him a lot of the equipment he uses to cook with. He told me one time why his cobblers are so good. "Lard," he said with a grin. "If you're on a diet, you have no excuse for coming to Meers."

I am wearing the fact that I could not spell Krispy Kreme as a badge of honor! I did buy them by the dozen in ca. 1992 - downtown Akron. Why would I eat them now? They would have to take a back seat to chicken fried steak and eggs - the breakfast of choice in Oklahoma! In Oklahoma - we don't eat Eggs Benedict - we eat BLT Benedict - adding bacon, lettuce and tomatoes to the normal benedict. Oh Julie if we only had more time. There were so many other fried food options to show you!!! A pint of freshly fried gizzards is a personal favorite. Fried pies. Fried catfish...the endless Frozen and then Fried Not-so-fresh seafood platters - the list is endless. Enough reason to come back I hope!

Sounds like a vegetarian's nightmare (lard in the cobbler?? O woe!) but I think I'd drive halfway across the country just to buy gum from that saguaro-shaped gumball machine. Amazing.

OMG...Peach Cobbler...Hey I could throw all these strawberries under the bus for a Peach Cobbler. Did you get one 'to go?'

I enjoyed the best brisket of beef I've ever eaten when I visited Meers during a photo trip to the Wichita Mountains a decade ago. Don't recall many birds, but the bison, longhorn cattle, and prairie dogs were very photogenic!

Posted by Ian Adams April 16, 2011 at 5:55 AM
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