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 took a few days off and, once again, took great pleasure in abusing the gracious hospitality of the Duke of Earl, his über-cool wife, 14-year-old grandson and, of course, the dogs. The weather was picture-postcard perfect, balmy days with negligible humidity and cool nights. As always, the crew had a very cool time and I got to do some cool things.
The first thing I did was go visit Bob. Bob is the local egg man, goo goo ga joob. The last time I was here Bob didn’t have any eggs because it was too damn hot and the chickens were molting. At first I thought he said they were melting. “No,” said Bob, “they’re molting. Chickens don’t lay when they’re molting.” Thankfully this time he had eggs.
Bob sells a dozen farm-fresh organic eggs for $1.50. A buck fifty! That ain’t cool. They used to be a buck. Using my eighth-grade “new” math, that’s a 50% price hike — over 4¢ per egg!! Goo goo ga jeez, Bob. Do I look like I’m made of money?
Since the farm-fresh organic eggs were so pricey, I had Bob give me a free tour of his operation. Bob not only keeps (what I suspect to be) designer chickens (that lay grossly overpriced organic designer eggs), he breeds pheasants, ducks, parakeets, finches, cockatiels and the occasional turkey, which he mostly sells at the swap meet.
Bob knows birds. One of the pheasants he breeds requires a special license because it’s not native to Missouri; they ain’t no Hillbilly birds. Still, they are very beautiful, very cool, but I can’t remember what they’re called. I do know they are not of the Ring-necked variety, though he raises those, too.
While there, Bob told me so much cool stuff about the birds that I wished I’d had a tape recorder. I’m one of those “The art of memory is knowing what to forget” guys, so I forget everything. I did remember a couple of things that were pretty cool though:
For instance, Bob wants to know whenever somebody gets a red spot on a yolk. “Because they’re fertile?” No, says Bob, it has nothing to do with it being fertile. The red spot is created before the egg is fully formed, a result of the chicken being frightened by something. Thus, if a lot of red spots start showing up in the expensive yolks of his grossly overpriced farm-fresh organic eggs, it means there’s a predator he doesn’t know about scaring the crap out of the hens. Cool, huh?
He also taught me how to sex a chicken. I thought you looked at their rear end or something. No, says Bob, the easy way to do it is to look at the shape of their wing. A rooster’s feathers will be long all the way out the wing, whereas a hen’s will look almost like a cutaway. This allows the rooster to almost take flight, moving fast to protect his territory and, hopefully take on all comers. Too cool, huh?
The other cool to-do hereabouts was the Grand Opening — which I missed (not cool) — of my friend Debbi Cool’s cool restaurant in downtown Galena. It’s called The Cool Place Cafe, and is located so downtown that you can hit every major government building and notable Stone County institution with a rock … if you had a Ernest T. Bass-worthy hillbilly arm and the requisite inclination.
It’s open 7 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays, with a daily special. The Duke and I went and I ordered biscuits and gravy. I happen to know Deb makes really great biscuits. “No!” she said. “We quit serving breakfast at 11.” Not cool. Despite my arguing time zones with her she failed to budge. However, she did give me a to-go container of gravy she had saved for me, which was pretty cool.
We ended up having the day’s special, Chili and Grill Cheese ($5.25), and that was pretty cool. Great chili (“I was gonna call it Butch’s chili because I got the recipe from him,” Debbi said) and a pepper jack grilled cheese on (I think) rye bread. Really good and a cool deal, too.
The next day I went in and got that days’ special — Chicken and Homemade Noodles w/roll and cake ($5.50) — and it was really, really good, too. Plus, I learned a couple of cool things: Debbi will serve you seconds if you’re still hungry, and you get a free piece of cake on Wednesdays and Fridays with the special.
She had some other really cool touches, I thought. I loved the glass plates and such, mostly because they look cool and I don’t have to carry them. Also, a super-cool touch was that she had whole black pepper and, especially cool, sea salt with garlic grinders at the table. Cool.
I’ve known Deb for over 40 years and she pisses me off. First, she refuses to age properly, which ain’t cool. She makes me look older than I am. Secondly, in 40 years I have won — and I’ve tallied them with exacting measure — exactly 0 [zero] arguments with her during that time. And that’s cool, but she doesn’t have to remind me. I mean, that ain’t cool.
I’ve also known her husband forever. He is the son of Jack and Jo Cool. Dig that: His mom was Jo Cool! He tells a cool story about asking his dad about being harangued about his last name when he was a kid. Evidently, Jack never heard any jokes or puns about his last name because “cool” hadn’t yet taken on the meaning it has since, I suspect, the late ‘50s. The punch line is that a classmate of Jack Cool’s was named Jack Frost, and it was Jack Frost who took the ribbing.
All in all the land yacht’s crew had a pretty cool shore leave in Galena … despite the extraordinarily high cost of farm-fresh organic eggs. Ah, but what the hell, it’s all cool. Heck, a gaggle of Canada Geese even made a backyard visit. And that, too, is always cool.
And so we roll.
The Cool Place Cafe, 107 Main Street, Galena, MO 417.357.0440
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.