Thursday, May 27, 2010
I recommend the Hawaiian Catfish Platter
On a map, the lake is in the town of Scroggins. (When I say "town", you really need to use your imagination. It consists of: a post office, railroad tracks, and a Texaco. That is not a typo - that's the end of the sentence. A post office and a gas station. Period. Straight out of a Thornton Wilder play, people). It has a population of 125, give or take the occasional farming equipment casualty, known in East Texas as, "natural causes". It was established in 1850 and named after a local sawmill operator named Milt Scroggins.
Here is an average Friday night out in Scroggins. (For your information, Friday nights in Scroggins are a big deal). There is a bluegrass band that plays at one of the local hotspots. Hotspots, you ask? When you have a choice between a gas station and a post office, which one is "hotter"? Duh. That's easy. The Texaco, of course. Note: this is not to be missed! Whatever your Friday night plans are in E-Tex or western Louisiana, cancel them immediately and head on over to the Scroggins Texaco to immerse yourself in the local culture. It is an experience like no other.
So, Bluegrass band. All the excitement begins about 5:30 pm. They clear the bags of feed out of one corner (oh, did I mention that the gas station doubles as a feed-n-seed?) and the ensemble tunes up their instruments, which consist of: a banjo, a guitar (please pronounce GIT-ar when you are in East Texas), a washboard (nope, not kidding), a keyboard, and a guitjo - which, news to me, is the byproduct of the marriage between a banjo and a guitar. Really.
The live music begins. One of the bandmembers - I kid you not - keeps his lit cigarette wedged in one of the gaps between his teeth. However, as we all know, appearances aren't everything, and this band actually plays excellent music. After awhile, you stop being distracted by the inch of ash on the fire hazard tar stick dangling from his lips which could ignite the multiple poorly packaged bags of feed at any second and we all might have to perish in a gas station, and you really get into the great music. There's even dancing. In a Texaco. You do-si-do clockwise in circles around the cash register counter in the center of the store. Beware the errant discount pocketknife, lotto card, can of potted meat, or prepackaged cherry pie, lest you lose your footing on the dance floor. Mayhem.
Hungry? Well, lucky for you, the people running this joint are known for their fried catfish platter. It is served with sliced onions, tomatoes, and cornbread. The catfish, I assume, are locally obtained from the nearby lake, but as a person who frolics frequently in said lake, I prefer to imagine the catfish do not inhabit our waters and are instead imported from far distant places, say, Hawaii. Yeah, Hawaiian catfish. Yum. For dessert, choose from a number of fresh homemade pies. I'll even let you in on a secret: the coconut cream pie is da bomb.
If you play your cards right, the local celebrity, Miss Wooly Worm Festival 2009 will be your server and will take pictures with you to commemorate your visit.
Now, my description of the happening nightlife at the Texaco in Scroggins may sound somewhat satirical in its content. But I promise, I promise, I am not mocking. No mocking. I do not mock. In fact, I am very proud of the East Texas culture, and would recommend to anyone to please, please visit this place and bite off a slice of this Americana. Experience for yourself a living, breathing, chain-smoking, guitjo-playing John Cougar Mellencamp song. You will not regret it.