"It's not much but it's ours"

Thursday, October 01, 2009


Last time I wrote about Kansas City, I got into a bit of trouble for not making the distinction between Kansas City, MO and Kansas City, Kansas. OK, well I am back now and to be perfectly clear, I am in Kansas City, MO. Got it? Good.

Let’s continue. I am here for a repeat of one of the happiest experiences of the EAT MY GLOBE trip, working with the incomparable Burn Rate team at The American Royal BBQ competition. You want to know how big this event is? Let me just say that when I received an e-mail from the team leader saying “Guys we have 1000lbs of donated pork” I knew that I had a colon cleansing in my very near future.

That event begins with today’s set up and I arrived yesterday from L.A to meet my dear friend, Mark Cordes, who has provided a roof over my head on the last few visits to this rather endearing city. On previous visits on business, Mark and his then colleagues would take me out to dinner. It was always a bit of a disappointment because we would end up going to ersatz versions of European places. “A great Italian” or a “cute little French place” While their generosity was appreciated, the food was never that good, quite bad in fact sometimes if truth be told.

Then one day Mark suggested we try somewhere local and took me to Stroud’s. What can I tell you? Things were never quite the same between us again. Any man who could introduce me to a place that did fried chicken this delicious was always going to be a friend of mine. Stroud’s was a revalation. The sort of place that many Americans are often snobbish about or even worse apologetic about. It was a truly down home restaurant that served stupidly large portions of really delicious food.

It had been over four years since I last went. BB in blog speak “Before Blog” and in the intervening time, the original Stroud’s location had closed to be replaced by a freeway. It re-opened shortly afterwards on the fringes of a strip mall and I was concerned that it may have lost a lot of the charm, which made it special. I need not have worried. As we walked in, the honk-tonk playing of the piano man was just as it had been before. The perky waitresses were all present and correct and the tables were filled with noisy customers.

If the décor and atmosphere were immediately familiar, so was the food. While waiting for another friend to join us, we shared a half order of “mix-up” a combination of deep fried gizzards and chicken livers. The half order would only be enough to feed about six people and gives you some indication of the amount of food to arrive later in the meal.

The notional nod to health passed with the added salad plate and then we were on to the main courses. Mark’s order was two juicy pork chops, one grilled and one “chicken fried” and came served with creamy mashed potatoes and gravy made, as far as I can tell, from pouring half a vat of cream into the juices of the pan in which the chop was cooked. My own order was “Stroud’s Family Style Chicken Dinner” three portions of some of the best fried chicken you are ever likely to try anywhere along with cottage fries and green beans cooked with ham hocks. The chicken was beautifully moist once you crunched through the outer coating. I am told by Mark, it is because they pressure cook it first before pan frying in shortening. Kevin our companion went with “chicken fingers” three equally impressive strips of breast meat in the same coating.

We were already exuding meat sweats by this time and the sides were being pretty much left intact. That is until the arrival of the hot cinnamon rolls that Mark and Kevin had been waiting for. They tore into them ripping the soft rolls apart letting burst of cinnamon steam fill our booth. Americans have this love of cinnamon I never quite understand. The smell of it is almost the first smell you get when you land at an airport as you see people tucking into those dreadful Cinnabon rolls that are sold from concessions and contain about a million calories each. I don’t get it, and I didn’t get these rolls. I ate half of one and then went back to my chicken, which I most certainly did get. They know their schtick at Stroud’s and at the sign of a first let up in our eating our server appeared with boxes for us to take away our leftovers. It was at least 80% of what we had been served given that the portions were so enormous. We paid our bill which was about $30 each and included tip and a few beers.

You are not going to, well in fact you probably physically couldn’t, eat this sort of food on a regular basis. But, as a treat on a visit to the Mid-West, Stroud’s is a must visit. As I said Americans are often very apologetic about their own food, but Stroud’s serves to remind you that they have absolutely nothing to be apologetic about. Stroud's also serves some of the best fried chicken I have ever tasted.

Now bring on the ‘Q

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Anonymous gastrogeek said...

What a fascinating post! I adore fried chicken, reading this is making me salivate like a butcher's dog. You're so lucky, I wish they had places like this in London....

Thursday, October 01, 2009 4:31:00 pm  
Anonymous Paulie said...

I concur entirely with your dismay at the snobbery of some Americans to some of their best food. I recently had a rack of ribs at a bbq place in Austin and half way through pronounced it to be amongst the best plates of food I had ever eated, to the incredulity of my hosts.

Thursday, October 01, 2009 11:01:00 pm  
Anonymous Alex said...

What's in the bowls in yr main pic?
one is the green beans;another apple sauce(for the pork?);the white one is mashed potatoes?;and the 4th is????????
Glad to get a post from you stateside ...hope the bbq goes well.

Friday, October 02, 2009 10:10:00 am  
Anonymous An American in London said...

"The sort of place that many Americans are often snobbish about or even worse apologetic about."

In my experience, Americans who love food are often rightfully proud of their local specialties (and will not only say so to visitors but also debate the finer points among themselves). Ever ask a New Yorker about the best slice or best bagel in town?

Paulie - your hosts couldn't have been so snobbish about the ribs if they'd bothered taking you to that restaurant in the first place, no? Perhaps your hosts incredulous that you thought the ribs were *that* good because they'd had better elsewhere?

Friday, October 02, 2009 10:37:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Kansas City, MO and Kansas City, Kansas. OK, well I am back now and to be perfectly clear, I am in Kansas City, MO. Got it? "

OK? That'll be Oklahoma, then?

Friday, October 02, 2009 4:18:00 pm  

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