I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Davis, Oklahoma.
Greetings from Davis, Oklahoma
N 34° 26.851’ W 097° 08.123’ Elev. 815 ft.
There is a great, great band called The String Cheese Incident. I want to recommend that you experience them instead of experiencing what I’m calling: The Fried Pie Disaster.
I was on my way to a pathetic, fetid little burg in Texas called Houston, a truly odious swamp of a place with no redeeming qualities. Indeed, it is one of those places that is in much need of — deserves! — a massive petrochemical explosion that would, if all went well, leave no trace that it ever existed. But that’s just my humble, yet well-reasoned, opinion.
Although there’s a Flying Fishhook (Flying J truck stop) there that sells tasty meat Fried Pies (2/$3), that alone should in no way be construed as a redeeming quality nor a reason to prevent or diminish the aforementioned explosion. Jeezus, it’s freakin’ Houston for cris’sake.
Having had the fried pies at the Flying Fishhook, I was wanting to try some from a real fried pie place.
On the way to There-Is-No-There-There I stopped for coffee in Fairfield, Texas. Across the street was a place called Cooper Farms (Exit 198, I-45 & Hwy. 27) that advertised Fried Pies. I walked over hoping to get a meat fried pie, but they didn’t make them. I did, however, buy a Coconut Fried Pie ($3.50); I love coconut cream pie and figured it would be similar. How could I go wrong? Well, by leaving it on the passenger seat until it molded before I could eat it for starters. Talk about harbingers.
On the way back from the Execrable Armpit of Texas I stopped at Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies in Davis, Oklahoma. They claim to be The Original Fried Pie, a curious boast as Baker’s Ribs in Caddo Mills, Texas makes the same claim. I’m sure there are more than a few others.
Walking up to the place I was delighted to see an obviously narcissitic rooster admiring at his reflection in the glass of one of the front doors. That’s a good sign, I thought. The not particularly friendly fried-pie lady explained that the cock lived nearby and liked to strut over and visit occasionally. Quaint.
I perused the menu and ordered three expensive ($3.99 each) Fried Pies: a Spinach, Mushroom and Potato; a Beef and Vegetable; and a Polish Sausage and Potato, which they billed as the “Comfort Food.”
The half moon-shaped pies were fairly large, about 7 inches in length at the base, with great crust but sort of thin. I was pretty excited, especially about the spinach. Then I took a bite.
It was so salty it should’ve come with a Surgeon General’s Warning so that people with heart conditions taking statins didn’t bleed to death from their follicles, if not every pore on their body, after a single bite. In a word: YUK!
I would’ve thrown it out the window but I’m sure that that much salt would’ve attracted a herd of deer or cows or horses within minutes, effectively shutting down I-35 in both directions. No doubt, the pie would’ve then been traced back to me through an anonymous tipster and I’d get a ticket for … lord knows what.
Then I tried the “Comfort Food” pie. It was full of pureed potatoes that tasted faintly of chicken broth. Not bad. However, it contained only (approximately) 1.376 grams of Polish sausage; two measly pieces to be exact. While the pie wasn’t offensive it offered absolutely no “comfort.”
The Beef and Vegetable was the best of the three, although a visual examination didn’t reveal any beef or vegetables. I never figured out what it tasted like, really. It was something familiar yet undefinable, sort of like a Swanson’s® Salisbury Steak nukerowavable delight … or something. Mostly something.
Was I disappointed? Yes. Pissed? Not completely because I liked seeing the local Cock o’ the Walk. But overall I hated, HATED the pies. What a rip-off! Would I recommend avoiding the place? Yes, at all cost. Unless, of course, you’re a big, big fan of handheld salt licks and random barnyard fowl.
In all, the whole adventure ended up being pure kismet: The pies sucked; I ended up losing their menu as well as everything else with Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies’ address on it; and all but one of the close-up photos of the pies were so blurry they were unusable, much like the pies themselves. Pretty poetic, I’d say.
Since I’m talking about avoiding places, here’s another one: Betty’s Truck Stop on I-44 at Highway YY (Exit 74) in Missouri. Here’s why: I was dead tired, starving, wanting just to eat and then sleep. I went into Betty’s — I’d been wanting to try it even though it never seemed busy even though it has acres of parking — and was greeted by a waitress that could only be described as, to be kind, icey.
I was looking at the menu and was thrilled to see they had tomato soup, as well as “homemade” vegetable beef and chicken noodle soups, as permanent menu items. I love tomato soup. Moreover it’s rare for a restaurant to have any “named” soup as a regular menu item unless it’s good and it sells.
As I always do, I asked if they had any specials. “Sloppy Joe and fries,” she said. Hmm, a Sloppy Joe sounds good. What can I substitute for fries, I asked? I was thinking a cup of tomato soup would be great. “You can’t,” said Icee. Huh? “You can’t substitute on the special. It’s the rules.” But what if someone can’t eat potatoes, what then? “It doesn’t matter. No substitutions on the special,” she said haughtily, robotically. Screw you, I thought. And Betty, too.
A basic rule of commerce: If a business won’t take care of its customers, its customers shouldn’t take care of them. I observed the rule. (Note: Never ever take shit from anyone who’s trying to sell you something. Your money talks. They need you, not vice versa.)
So I walked back to the yacht, fuming. Never had I run into such blind obstinacy in a restaurant, especially one that supposedly caters to drivers. I then enjoyed a delicious chicken salad (from Braum’s) sandwich on wheat with green leaf lettuce, followed by a sound sleep.
And so we roll.
Flying J Travel Centers, nationwide
Cooper Farms, Exit 198, I-45 & Hwy. 27, Fairfield, Texas
Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies, I-35 at Exit 51, Davis, Oklahoma
Betty’s Truck Stop, Exit 74, I-44 & Hwy. YY, Sweet Springs, Missouri
Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.