“How jerky is that?” That’s what some of my friends might say when they open their Christmas gift from me in a couple of days.
I was driving home to Houston from north Texas recently and listening to non-stop holiday music thanks to my wife. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas she has the incredible ability to sniff out every radio station in Texas that plays songs of the season 24-7. Needless to say I had Christmas on my mind.
As we drove along I-45 I thought about my own Christmases past, what I might be getting from Santa this year, and what I was going to get for my hard-to-shop-for friends. That’s when it came to me like a tide of Yule . . . so to speak. We were just minutes from Woody’s Smokehouse – “The Jerky Capital of the World”, and I was now a Santa on a holiday mission.
Woody’s Smokehouse has been a roadside destination for travelers passing through Centerville for a long time. One side of the shop is a traditional convenience store with grocery items, chilled coolers filled with soft drinks and adult beverages, and off-the-wall things from Christmas tree shaped auto air fresheners to jumbo sized cigarette lighters. But, it’s the other side of the store that beckons today . . . the side filled with jerky and jars of tasty southern memories to share on December 25th.
Through the glass of the market style display cases I could see all sorts of meaty gift ideas, dried and bagged for purchase. For the unadventurous there was traditional beef jerky and turkey jerky. Good choices under normal circumstances, but lacking as spicy stocking stuffers at Christmas.
Then I saw them and the holiday shopping frenzy began. There was hickory smoked peppered beef jerky next to spiced venison jerky. Hot elk and smoked elk jerky shared space with thick smoked buffalo jerky. There was sweet and spicy beef jerky and Teriyaki beef jerky, along with dried pork jerky. On top of the cases were what looked to be old round cheese hoops filled with more jerky . . . bags of jalapeno beef jerky, smoked turkey tenders, meat “sticks” of all description and more. This was like a grown up version of a kid in a candy store.
The gift gathering continued as I turned to find Mason-like jars loaded with horseradish jelly and watermelon rind pickles. Shelves were packed with southern style pickled ocra, green tomato pickles, “Peachy Peach” halves, and cherry cobbler. “I didn’t know that my Mema worked in the kitchen Woody’s Smokehouse,” I thought with a grin as a grabbed a jar of sweet pickles.
This was nice. I was going to share some good eats and Texas-style memories with my friends this Christmas compliments of the old smokehouse in Centerville.
Oh, by the way . . . Santa is good to go. There was no reindeer jerky to be found. I asked!
Michael Baxter is the Texas Travelin’ Man
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