August 5, 2013

Small Towns & Greasy Spoons

I went home again this weekend.

This time the trip was planned well in advance, as it has been a year since my father passed away and we held a small family gathering to honor him and spread his ashes.  I haven't mentioned this part of my life here on Omnivora, because maybe it's too personal and, well, not entirely food-related.

However, I have written about how my mother has shaped my relationship with food in positive ways, and I also have my dad to thank.  He loved food and would try anything.  He appreciated a hard day's work (his hobbies included hunting and ranching), but also the meal to follow it with equal gusto.  He was very much the uncomplaining type and would be happy with a smothered hamburger or a beautiful salad (as long as there was enough of it).

Today, my brother told us about the Canada fishing trips he and my dad took.  They would fish for walleye until they would limit out and then catch a few pike for fun.  And dinner.  One of the regular meals they had with their guides was cornmeal-breaded walleye pan-fried in whale fat and served as a sandwich on white bread with mayonnaise and salt-and-vinegar potato chips.  I cannot tell you how much I want to try that.  Really.  Plus, have you ever had walleye?  Super good.

Oh, and we also did a 10k.  Here.

After spending most of the day in the sun, hiking around the land I grew up on, building physical and emotional memorials for my father with my family, we were all rather hungry.  We went to the only place in town, which happens to have been around my entire life, The Beulah Inn.

It's a small town greasy spoon, complete with dark bar in the back and the occasional "pie lady."  (This time, she was a cake lady.  Ask me if you don't know what I'm talking about...might be a country thing.)  I hadn't been in years, but the visit made me nostalgic and I immediately thought of childhood things like the bi-weekly gymkhana, dancing to the original Cotton-Eye Joe and yelling "bullshit!" when I was too young to be allowed to in real life, and learning how to properly milk a goat.  All things, of course, that are fond memories of my father.

The food is nostalgic, too, and perhaps not just for me.  The fare is standard and traditional, with Colorado touches, like the aforementioned smothered burger and house-made green chile.  The menu has barely changed in decades, which means they still have hand-cut french fries that are worth the drive from town.  But, they have adapted as well, including vegetarian and gluten-free options.  In other words, I am going to add The Beulah Inn to the My-Hometown-Is-Awesome Tour.  Which is already complete with a castle and Moon Rock.  Really.

**I didn't think to take food pictures while we were eating, because I intended to write about something completely different.  But that is best saved for next time.  Once again, for balance and full spectrum.


  1. We first discovered Beulah during a snowstorm drive over 12 mile road. Hungry, cold and glad to be on pavement, we parked at the Beulah Inn and ordered chile and pie. The hominess of the place and food convinced us to relocate from Boulder to Beulah. Once a resident, and many pieces of pie later, I asked the Pie Lady her secret to her flaky crust. She took me to the back, opened the freezer and pointed at a huge container of lard. That occurred in 1975 as the natural foods movement was beginning and lard had no place in it. Over the years, I've tried many recipes that claim to be BEST EVER PIE CRUST but not a one is even close to the Pie Lady's. Then a few years ago, Saveur published a pie crust essay and recipe, with the secret to the BEST EVER PIE CRUST...a dollop of lard.

  2. Recently a converting from vegetarianism to an omnivore's diet, I totally recognize lard as a whole, healthy fat. Right?