I’ve just arrived in Dallas, Texas and I’m hungry. My friend Lana and her mother suggest we get some lunch at Peggy Sue’s Barbecue near Southern Methodist University. I’ve never been a big fan of BBQ – but when in Rome, do as the Roman’s do.
“Get the chopped brisket sandwich,” Lana says, as we slide into a booth. “It’s really good here.”
“I had brisket in New York recently,” I say, grimacing at the memory. “It was awful.”
“You’re in Texas now,” Lana replies. “The barbecue’s good here.”
“I’ll take your word for it.”
“Do you want to get an appetizer?” Lana’s Mom asks.
“Maybe,” I say, perusing the menu.
“How about onion rings?’ Lana’s Mom says. “Peggy Sue’s makes the best onion rings.”
“How about the Texas Torpedoes?” I say, pointing at the menu. “Six cream cheese filled, batter fried jalapeños. Yum, yum.”
”That’s a little heavy for me,” Lana says. “I’ll pass.”
“Don’t worry,” I reply. “I packed my Lipitor. You can have some.”
When the waitress swings by with our sodas we order a plate of fried onion rings, three brisket sandwiches, and two sides of fried okra. The food comes out quickly. The onion rings are superb and the brisket sandwiches are moist and delicious. A far cry from the rubbery excuses I ate several months ago in Manhattan. The okra’s not bad either.
“Mmmm,” I say, between dripping mouthfuls. “This is delicious.”
“I told you,” Lana says. “Barbecue’s a religion in Texas.”
“This stuff could make me convert.”
“So what do you think about Texas so far?” Lana’s Mom, a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State, asks me.
“I was a little disappointed when I got off the plane,” I reply.
”Oh really? Why?”
”I thought I’d see a steer grazing near the runway.”
”They’re around,’ Lana’s mom says, laughing softly. “Just a little further out from here.”
“Sorry to be stereotypical,” I say. “Truth is you don’t see a pimp ten minutes after you get off the plane at La Guardia either.”
I’m starving and we eat the rest of our meal quietly. If the good barbecue’s any indication of things to come, I like Texas already. After we finish our sandwiches and onion rings the waitress clears our plates and asks if want dessert.
“What do you have?” I ask.
“We have peach cobbler, root beer float, or fried pie,” the waitress replies.
“Fried pie?” I ask.
“You take a pie and deep fry it?”
“Yes, sir,” the waitress says, acting like deep frying a pie is the most natural thing in the world.
“What kind of fried pie do you have today?’
“Apple or apricot. We’re all out of chocolate today.”
“Well,” I say, glancing at my dining companions. “I am in Texas.”
“You’ve got your Lipitor,” Lana says, “Go for it.”
“I’ll have the deep fried apple pie,” I say.
“Would you like vanilla ice cream on that, sir?’ the waitress asks.
“Sure,” I say, shrugging. “This meal’s already shaved a year off my life. Why not?”
The fried pie comes out, piping hot and delicious. The vanilla ice cream provides a nice counterpoint to the deep fried flaky crust. Seconds after I finish the pie, I can feel it starting to line the inside of my arteries.
“Man, that was good,” I say, wiping my mouth with a napkin. “I’m telling all my cardiologist friends to move down here. Texas is a gold mine.”
“Wait till you have to chicken fried steak over at The Black-Eyed Pea,” Lana says. “Then you’ll be in trouble.”
“I’m already in trouble,” I say, patting my stomach. “I’ll be feeling that fried pie for three days.”
“You still got a week here, honey,” Lana replies. “Maybe you should pace yourself.’
“Let’s stop at the drug store on the way home,” I say. I need to pick up some Alka-Seltzer.”
“I’ll never survive Texas without it.”