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 Galena, Missouri.
Greetings from Galena, Missouri
N 36° 47.079’ W 093° 30.350’ Elev. 885 ft.
The crew of the SS Me So Hungry got a few much needed days of shore leave recently. And as per usual we took full advantage of the chance to again use and abuse the overly generous hospitality of the Duke of Earl and his gracious family.
During this hiatus I made one of my real comfort foods, something that’s impossible to get “out there.” It’s a dish my Mom made when I was a kid that I loved. And because she didn’t make it very often — possibly because it’s kind of a pain in the butt — it was always a real treat whenever she made it.
For lack of a better name I called it “Okie Fried Rice” for years, which my mother vehemently objected to with marked indignation, and for good reason. You see, although she was born in Arizona, her family were Dust Bowl refugees and the term “Okie” was considered by her to be extraordinarily derogatory and downright hurtful. But I didn’t know what else to call it. After all, it has little in common with Chinese restaurant Fried Rice other than it contains rice.
Thankfully providence raised its pretty little head when I had a friend over one day and made Okie Fried Rice. She ate a bowl of it and then another. While eating the second bowl my friend, who is Japanese, looked at me thoughtfully and asked, “What makes it ‘big’?” Confused, but ever the exemplarily mannered host, I asked: “What the f**k are you talking about? What the hell do you mean, ‘big’?” She then explained that “Oki” means “big” in Japanese.
Needless to say my mother was thrilled to learn that my name for this rice dish had lost a vowel and had become acceptable to her, if not downright respectable. So here’s the recipe for Oki Fried Rice:
8 cups cooked rice
6-8 stalks of Celery
2-3 large Green Bell Peppers
2-3 bunches Green Onion
3-5 cans of Tuna, drained
Yield: More than you’ll probably want. I always make a lot so adjust it to yield however much you want.
Roughly chop the veggies and mix all the ingredients together in a humongous mixing bowl. Then fry it in the cheapest oil you can find in the following fashion: Fill the bottom of the frying pan so that the rice is about a half-inch deep when it’s smashed down as much as possible. Let the mixture fry until you see the outer edges brown, then turn it over. If it’s fried the proper amount of time it will come apart sort of like hash browns. After turning it over, break it up with the front edge of the spatula and smash it down as before. Be aware that the “second side” will cook faster than the first and you shouldn’t let it get as brown.
After frying the rice, put it in a bowl or storage container lined with paper towels. This will help soak up whatever excess oil will drain through.
Then dish yourself a bowl of Oki Fried Rice, hit it with soy sauce to taste and …. (If I knew how to write Homer Simpson’s drooling, food-Nirvana utterance, I’d have written it here instead of an ellipses.)
Oki Fried Rice reheats marvelously in about a minute or so in a Nuke-Ro-Wave™. It’s great as a meal, a side dish or, topped with scrambled or fried eggs, for breakfast.
Another treat we had is one that is bafflingly hard to find on the road: Regular, so-called “American” waffles. You’d be amazed how many places only have the waffle bastardizations of the Belgian variety, which I hate.
It took awhile but — unless you want to pay $80 or more — I finally found an American waffle iron; you can find those Belgian waffle bastards for as little as $12 most anywhere. I found the American one for $9.50 at an ersatz antique shop (a brick-and-mortar flea market, really) in Crane, Missouri. The iron worked fine. But then a friend who had heard me bitching about my frustration of finding an American waffle iron showed up with an even better one, one with double-sided irons that worked even better. Both of the waffle irons are easily about as old as I am.
So we had American Waffle Day for the SS Me So Hungry crew and the kids, and we all got to enjoy real American waffles with Mrs. Buttersworth syrup, bacon that was perfectly fried (not too crispy), and farm fresh over-easy eggs. Life just doesn’t get much better than that.
And so we roll.
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.