There is an ancient box of curry on my kitchen shelf, leftovers from the day when I decided to enrich my children’s dietary experiences. The recipe was called something-something-chicken curry. It went over like Sunday morning hymns in Hades so I’ve forgotten the official name. The children gagged at the smell. Husband asked for hot dogs and he hates hot dogs. I poured it out in the back yard for the homeless animals. The stray skunks and possums wouldn’t eat it. The tom cats turned up their noses. The bushes nearest to it died and the grass hasn’t grown back even yet. That was 20 years ago.
So I went back to the Oklahoma Five Basics (OFB): salt, pepper, ketchup, Ranch dressing and BBQ sauce. The children think I’m the best cook in the state. Husband utters a sigh of relief when he walks through the door and doesn’t smell curry. The cats don’t cut a wide swath around my house to get home after a night of heavy tom cattin’. The bushes and grass probably won’t ever grow back, but that’s my reminder to leave alone that which does not fall in the OFB.
The OFB is really just using our God-given good common sense in the kitchen. Salt is salt. It’s not Your New Improved Salt, Classic Salt, or any of those things. It’s cheap, reliable and makes everything taste better. Ever tried to get down a batch of good old fried potatoes without the salt shaker? Or how about a fresh picked garden ripe tomato? I rest my case!
Pepper is the same. Cream gravy without pepper?
Now the other three can render up a debate in a hurry. Some folks will stand on their soap boxes and spout advertisement for a certain brand of ketchup until the judgment day arrives. Same with Ranch dressing. It can cause a family feud at a reunion if Great Aunt Rosie puts the wrong kind of Ranch on her Better-Than-Thou-Green Salad.
But the real culprit is the BBQ sauce. Now that’s as personal as naming your first born. Folks have BBQ cook-offs and put their recipes in the safe deposit box down at their local bank. They carry an insurance policy on their BBQ recipes. Great Aunt Rosie has been known to spit on her knuckles, draw a line across the front yard and just dare anyone to challenge her Self-Righteous Barbecued Baby Back Ribs. If she can’t whoop a body into shape, then Uncle Moe might be forced to join in the battle since he helps brew the sauce once a year when the garden tomatoes get ripe.
Uncle Moe has a few warnings to anyone crossing the line over into Murray County, Oklahoma. One has to do with his barbecue but the rest are just as important.
1. Don’t refer to us as a bunch of hillbillies. We know our heritage and we’re proud of it. We don’t care if you think we are dumb. We know you can’t make decent BBQ sauce.
2. Don’t fake an Okie accent to get him to give you the recipe. That will cause a riot and Great Aunt Gert will be spitting on her knuckles again. She’s a real feisty one even at ninety two years old. Uncle Moe says she can spot a fake Okie accent quicker than a cob web on the ceiling of her good sittin’ room.
3. Don’t walk into the drug store and order a pop or a soda. It’s all called Coke. We don’t care if it’s Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, 7-Up or Big Red. It’s still Coke and that’s what you order when you pull up a stool in front of the fountain at the local drug store ... at least when Uncle Moe is having his morning cup of coffee in the back booth. Great Aunt Rosie never could make a decent cup of coffee and she’s meaner than a grizzly bear with a sore tooth before mid morning. So Uncle Moe takes his coffee uptown.
4. Don’t be ordering wheat toast at
restaurant. Eat your
biscuits like the Almighty intended with
gravy on the top. Murray
5. Don’t laugh at southern people’s names (i.e., Merleen, Bodie, Luther Ray, Tammy Ann, Darla Inez, Gertrude Daisy, Moe, Billy Joe, Bubba, Sissy or Andy Bob). It’s disrespectful and Uncle Moe gets real upset at poor manners.
6. Last but not least, DO NOT, come down here telling him what to put in his BBQ. That will get you in more trouble than you can crawl out of in a lifetime. Question his BBQ by telling him he needs to add cilantro or peppers or even chocolate bars and you won’t ever be permitted to come cross the
border at all, and forget about visiting Oklahoma . It ain’t about to happen. Murray