Iâ€™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 McPherson, Kansas.
Greetings from McPherson, Kansas!
N 38Â° 22.221Â W 097Â° 37.699Â Elev. 1484 ft.
I made a very, very important discovery: Really good pre-made Tuna and Chicken salads! Both of them are made by Pilgrimâ€™s Pride, which I thought was curious as PPâ€™s main gig is chicken. (Then again, tuna is the chicken of the sea, right?)
I found them both at Braumâ€™s, a family-owned chain of combination ice cream/dairy store, fast-food restaurant, and miniature market located all over Oklahoma and parts of Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri.
My initial introduction to Braumâ€™s was less than stellar, to say the least. It was late, I was tired and wanted something hot to eat, fast. So I got a double cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate malt from the Braumâ€™s in Carthage, Missouri.
Well, it smelled good enough and was actually still hot by the time I parked the yacht and set up house (i.e., put up the satellite dish). Then I took a bite of the burger and … jeezus freakinâ€™ christ! It was the saltiest thing Iâ€™d had in my mouth since I involuntarily swallowed a gallon of Pacific Ocean as a child. I mean, it was bad. Worse than bad. And to add insult to injury, I was starving to death, so I ended up choking the salt-lick-on-a-bun down anyway, along with the by-then cold fries. Yuk. The malt, while exceptionally delicious, didnâ€™t make up for the abusive burger and cold fries.
My next brush with Braumâ€™s, however, was much more pleasant, not to mention markedly more palatable. I was on I-35 in southern Oklahoma when I ran out of hours and had to stop in Pauls Valley. After I parked I kept watching their little reader board flash â€œSteak Sandwich $1.99â€. Eventually my piqued curiosity peaked and I couldnâ€™t take it anymore and I had to find out what kind of steak they could possibly be selling for two bucks.
The answer turned out to be one of those chicken-fried steak patties like they sell in the frozen food sections of grocery stores, usually in bulk packs. It was actually quite good, served on a hamburger bun â€” Braumâ€™s has its own very good bakery â€” with mayonnaise, leaf lettuce and tomato. Very simple and quite delicious really.
While I was waiting for the mystery steak sandwich I wandered over to their little â€œFresh Marketâ€ section to get a half-gallon of Chocolate Milk ($1.75). They have some of the very best. Itâ€™s whole milk, rBGH-free, really thick, creamy and chocolatey. As I was walking to the register I passed the Deli case and discovered the Tuna and Chicken salads (both $3.29/12 oz.).
The Tuna salad is not too wet and has super-crunchy bits of celery in it. It tastes like it also has some sweet pickle relish in it, but Iâ€™m not sure as the list of ingredients is truly microscopic; even my evil twin Skippy couldnâ€™t read it. Likewise the Chicken salad is not too wet and has the crunchy celery bits. I bought another tub of Chicken Salad the other day and, unlike the first one, this one says itâ€™s Chunky. Whether it is or not (I havenâ€™t opened it yet) I could see taking it and mixing it with a small can of chunked chicken and easily feeding four adults â€” just add bread. Talk about good, cheap, and delicious road food!
I canâ€™t recommend these enough. They were so good, in fact, that I went high-end gourmet with both my Tuna and Chicken sandwiches: I bought some green leaf lettuce. A small packet of mayo on the side with the lettuce and BAM! … youâ€™ve got yourself a $7 bistro sandwich even Hilda Lagasse would love.
(So good was it that I even considered buying a $10 toaster. â€œOoh, toasted bread,â€ I thought. Thankfully I regained my senses before I ended up with an appliance I have no desire to stow, much less use regularly.)
I also bought some Mustard Potato Salad ($1.49/16 oz.). It too was really good, not too sweet with nice chunks of potato that werenâ€™t overcooked and, again, the crunchy celery bits. I just added a little pepper to it and, voila, insta-gourmet!
Additionally, I made sort of a curious scientific-ish discovery. In the past Iâ€™ve bought Iceberg lettuce and my Coleman Thermoelectric Cooler would promptly freeze it; the cooler is technically a simple (miraculous) heat exchanger. Not only did the leaf lettuce not freeze, it stayed fresh and crisp until I finished the whole head (well over a week!!). I donâ€™t understand the physics involved, but I suspect itâ€™s all a matter of water content and the density of the head or something. Perhaps some food physicist could explain it. Paging Alton Brown ….
And so we roll.
(Note: I took the pictures of the Braumâ€™s in McPherson as it had just opened and was devoid of customers. When I tried to take an up-close picture of the menu-board, however, I was stopped by a woman (the manager?) who said I couldnâ€™t take pictures of it because â€œsome people could alter it and make it say nasty things or something.â€ I told her I didnâ€™t have PhotoShop; I didnâ€™t tell her â€œItâ€™s obvious whatâ€™s on your mind.â€)
Braumâ€™sÂ -Â 2106 E Kansas Ave.Â McPherson, Kansas,
with locations throughout the mid- to lower-Midwest.
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.