As Independence Day approaches, people begin to fret about such things, because when we celebrate America, we must eat American things. (Same thing at Christmas, when we all eat reindeer and drink tinsel wine.)
The problem with this is that America is a nation of expats. We use the term “melting pot” a lot, mostly because everybody loves fondue, but also because our society, food included, is a mélange of all the disparate ingredients that have been poured into this country over the centuries.
So let’s celebrate the “all American” foods that are not, strictly speaking, all that American.
Nothing says “it’s Fourth of July!” like grilling out in the backyard. So let’s thank the Germans for their meaty ingenuity and eat two of their most famous concoctions: the hamburger (Hamburg-style steak) and hot dog (Frankfurt’s own frankfurter).
If you’re going to make your own burgers, do yourself a favor and head over to a local butcher shop like Wheeler’s Meat Market, 1524 S.E.
44th, or Holder Brothers Beef, 15220 N. Western in Edmond. It’s more expensive than grocery store beef, but the quality is phenomenal.
“We do ground sirloin, ground beef and a chopped sirloin steak burger,” said Tyler Smith, manager of the Holder Brothers’ Edmond location. “Our beef is all-natural, no added hormones, steroids or antibiotics, and we do a 28-day dry age. It makes the beef very tender and flavorful.”
But if you’d rather have an expert make burgers for you, there are several restaurants familiar with the concept.
One favorite is S&B’s Burger Joint, 20 N.W. Ninth. In addition to their standard burger, The Fatty, S&B’s has a host of specialty sliders that celebrate cultures both foreign (The Frenchman, The Colombian) and domestic (The Philly Slider, The Thunder Burger).
For hot dogs, try the aptly named Hot Dog OKC cart, which stakes out Bricktown from 5 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. every Friday and Saturday. Not only will you find old favorites, like the chili dog and sauerkraut dogs, but several sausages are named for local celebrities.
The act of frying chicken has roots in both Scottish and African cuisine, but Americans perfected it, similar to the way we excel at plastic surgery. (And both usually involve large breasts.)
You could make the drive out to Eischen’s Bar, 109 N. Second in Okarche, but there’s plenty of great fried chicken right here in the OKC metro area. A Family Affair, 1742 N.E. 23rd, does its chicken in classic Southern style, with plenty of soulfood sides to sate your appetite. If you get the buffet, you’ll be able to gorge yourself on as much chicken and sides as you can handle.
And finally, the apple pie, which is what everything should be as American as. At ND Foods, 2632 W. Britton, owner Nick Wade said he makes up a tasty version … but that’s not what sells.
“A lot of people look at apple pie and think it’s boring,” he said. “We sell a lot more of our triple-berry pies than we ever do apple.”
So our food comes from every place but America. So what? I don’t care if it came from Canada or India or the lost colony of Atlantis (great shrimp kebobs), it’s still good food.
And besides, we can still eat our food like Americans: by shoveling way too much of it down our gullets.
Visit okgazette.com for searchable listings of restaurants and bars in the metro area.