When I found out Weinerschnitzel was not a German hot dog, I wondered how we would celebrate.
I don’t eat veal cutlets; actually, I don’t eat veal. After doing a little El Morno research, I was happy to learn that we could eat chicken fried steak to celebrate Weinerschnitzel Day.
My Aussie friend did not understand why chicken fried steak was actually made with cube steak instead of chicken. She asked me to explain. I had no idea and simply told her what my mom would have told me…It is not ours to reason why; just eat it.
But then, of course, being of an inquiring mind (it’s a curse, really), I had to find out the real answer. Chicken fried steak (also known as country fried steak) is made by beating the crap out of a piece of steak (cube steak), coating it with seasoned flour, and pan frying it. It is Texas cuisine. It’s named chicken fried steak because it is prepared like fried chicken—which really makes no sense at all, but I’m not planning to research it any further. If you have some thoughts on the name or the dish, please share with all of us.
My mother confirmed the recipe and my choice of meat and then threw in, “Don’t forget to make gravy.” Country GRAVY. I told my mother NO GRAVY and then she informed me that I could not serve chicken fried steak without gravy. It wasn’t done and would be worse than serving pork without applesauce, ham without pineapple, lamb without mint jelly. Then she threw in for good measure, “My grandson loves gravy.” FINE. I made gravy from a little envelope with a few of the pan drippings. I hated standing there, stirring and stirring and stirring…but I did,
and yes, of course, Cole slathered his chicken fried steak in it. Don’t you just hate kids sometimes?
We have a family story about gravy. Would you like me to share it? Are you sure? You won’t be bored? Well ok….if you insist.
A long time ago my mother, her sister, and my dad had Sunday dinner at my great-grandmother’s house. Nana always served Sunday dinner to the throngs, masses, and the homeless so the pots, pans, and dishes were plentiful and the dishwashers—my mother, her sister, and my dad—were the dish washers. My mother was putting away the last of the leftovers and wearily asked my dad to hand her the treasured leftover gravy. My dad told her he’d thrown it out. My mother and her sister laughed, “Ha ha ha. Good one, Charlie! Now hand over the gravy so we can wrap it up and go home.” My dad said, “No, really, I just pitched it.” All activity in the kitchen stopped.
My mother and her sister said together, “You pitched the gravy.” My dad said again, “Yes, I threw the gravy out.” At this moment, my grandmother walked in to see if she could help move things along, looked at her daughters and my dad, and wondered who had died. My mother said, “Mama, Charlie threw the gravy out.” Her mother looked horrified and said, “Whatever in the world possessed him to do such a thing!” By now my dad, who had not been a part of the family very long, wondered if he was going to be part of it much longer. Thinking quickly, my grandmother sent my dad with my mom to the store and told them to buy large cans of gravy. When they returned, the gravy was put on the stove, peppered, spiced up, and poured into the gravy container. When they left, they took the cans with them.
My great-grandmother never learned the truth, as far as we know, but she was fond of calling my dad “a prince of a man in his OWN home.” With the emphasis on “OWN.” My dad, of course, never lived down the gravy story.
Emily does not fix or eat Weinerschnitzel or chicken fried steak. She has bad memories of her mother beating the tar out of a piece of meat to tenderize it during her frugal phase. She asked Nat to have it for lunch, but he forgot. WHAT IS IT WITH MEN? In any case, she let him live, forgave him, and granted him a do-over at some point.
Muse with me….Is it true that EVERYONE loves gravy? Odd Loves Company!!