We’ve established Texas had its challenges for me, one of which was finding a meal not involving a dead cow or deep fryer, and about halfway in I was desperately seeking tofu. (I realize “desperate” and “tofu” are two words that naturally go together for many of you, but I felt them in a different way.)
I went online, and found a well-reviewed Thai restaurant in Amarillo. Hallelujah. (And, uh, really?) I could practically taste the Pad See Yew as I sped down Route 66 to my destination.
Then, tragedy struck: restaurant closed, maybe for good. No rice noodles for me anytime soon.
Stomach growling, I spun around and saw this across the street:
I had plans and was running late, and I get crabby if I miss a meal, so it was a What-the-hell moment. I went in.
Cattleman’s Café (3801 E. Amarillo Blvd.) is an old-school Texas joint. Half the people were smoking and all seemed to know each other. People wandered table to table, shaking hands and talking.
I walked in and stood at the cash register waiting to be seated, and I’m not making this up, a hush fell over the room. It was as if I had a set of longhorns growing out of my head, but it could have been my attire. (Step One: Wear big black motorcycle boots.)
Finally the waitress came over, asked me what I wanted, and when I said, The booth in the corner, please? she laughed and said, Seat yourself, Hon. So I did.
(Step Two: Wait, stiff and proper, instead of finding a booth and seating your own damn self.)
The crowd was fascinating. One young woman made the rounds with her newborn, showing the tiny thing off. Neither the baby nor its mother had any teeth. There were a lot of older rancher-looking guys in plaid shirts and trucker hats and cowboy boots. They sat with their wives but flirted with the waitress, who gave as good as she got.
I pulled my notebook and camera from my bag, which alerted the natives there was definitely something odd going on. (Step Three: Make notes and prepare to take pictures.)
Immediately follow that with Step Four: Drop your pen under the table and crawl around looking for it.
I was not blending. Though I suppose I can now also cross spy off my potential careers list.
Apparently crawling around on the floor makes you even hungrier, and my stomach was growling loud enough to hear at the next table. The good news was I was in a restaurant. There was food there. I didn’t care what kind at that point.
More good news: I didn’t have to order beef! I got the hot turkey sandwich with gravy, French fries, and salad ($6.99):
The fries were delicious, light and crisp. The turkey cutlet was served over white toast, and wasn’t bad, actually. Not too salty, and the gravy tasted like turkey, not cornstarch soup. The salad was really just a delivery system for the ranch dressing, which I totally support.
But I wasn’t quite done making a statement. Step Five: Stand over your food, rearrange plates and cups and silverware and squirt bottles, then take flash photos of it all. Repeatedly.
I might be clumsy with a pen, but I am not shy.