Unofficial dish of Bell County
We took a poll, now it's time announce the best-loved dish in the county. Hint, the top two picks were adapted in Texas from European favorites.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2021
If we were to designate an official Bell County dish, what would it be? The options are plentiful, and a solid case can be built for each.
Chicken-fried steak, kolaches, brisket and tacos are all strong contenders for the Unofficial Dish of Bell County. Is one of these a winner? Read on …
Cultures brought tasty favorites to Central Texas, then changed them
By DAVID STONE, Our Town exclusive
Americans love hamburgers — the popular sandwich made of a bun stuffed with veggies, sauces and, of course, ground meat grilled to perfection. As a country, we eat about 50 billion burgers a year. No wonder it’s our national dish.
In Texas, chili is king. The Texas Legislature made it official in 1977 by naming it the state’s official dish.
So, what about Bell County? If we were to designate an official food — or in our case, unofficial — what would it be? The options are plentiful, and a solid case can be built for each.
First of all, it’s Texas, so anything beefy would be a great choice. Since burgers are the national dish, maybe brisket, steak or fajitas. After all, the famous Chisholm Trail cattle drives came right through the heart of Bell County.
From the start of the trail drives in 1867 to 1871, millions of longhorns were taken from south Texas to the Kansas Railhead. It is estimated that 10 million longhorns went up the Chisholm Trail — which ran through Salado, Belton, Temple and west of Troy — before new rail lines to Texas made the long trail drives no longer necessary.
Secondly, Hispanic Texans were among the first to settle in this region, and of course, they brought their tasty dishes — with the exception of tacos. Those came later.
Tacos in some form have been around for centuries, but those early forms looked quite different from today’s popular and portable entrees. Long before it was known in the good ol’ USA, natives in Mexico were eating fish and organs wrapped in a corn-based flat tortilla to supply them energy for mining.
Mexican immigrants likely brought this tradition to San Antonio and El Paso in about 1905, but it wasn’t until December 1920 that they were Americanized with ground beef and chicken, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, lettuce and sour cream.
The change came as Americans in the Southwest began to customize the dish with familiar ingredients. The original organ-filled tortillas were heavily seasoned with spice, and white Americans at that time looked to tame that spice with other ingredients.
Although the modern version of the taco isn’t that old, the name “taco” is. It probably started in Mexico during the 1700s as a convenience food for the working class, including miners.
Gunpowder was wrapped in a paper-like “taquito” and set into rocks prior to detonation. As the meal gained popularity, they were sold on the street as “tacos de miners” — miner’s tacos.
These were soft corn tortillas with spicy filling and were affordable for the working folks.
The taco first appeared on street carts and were sold primarily by women. Mexican immigrants bought them, but American’s just couldn’t wrap their palates around them. So, in 1920, tacos began to change. Woohooo! Hello cheese, tomatoes, sour cream and ground beef!
Another top candidate for Bell County’s official dish is the kolache.
The delicious breakfast pastry we know looked a lot different in the early 1800s, before immigrants from the Moravia region of the Czech lands settled in Texas.
“Back the, Moravians made a large thin pastry similar to a pizza,” said Susan Chandler, director of the Czech Heritage Museum in Temple. “It was called a Frgal, and it was topped with apricots, plums, poppy seeds and cheeses.”
Chandler said the pastry was downsized when it came to Texas.
“To make them more portable, they started making them in little circles,” she said. “The called them kolo — which actually means circle. If there was just one kolo, a ‘c’ was added to make it koloc. That signifies there is only one. If there were more than one, a ‘ch’ was added. Kolach. Eventually it became kolache.”
“A new trend in kolaches is to make them bite-sized to serve as party appetizers,” Chandler said.
When Camp Hood — later renamed Fort Hood — was established in 1942, huge numbers of Army personnel called Bell County home. Most were men in the early days, and many spent part of their service years abroad at military installations in Germany and Korea.
As young men do, many took girlfriends while stationed abroad and returned with families. These German and Korean populations boomed in the Killeen area, and so did their cuisines. Today, kimchi and kraut are common refrigerator companions to mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise and salsas.
In recent years, veganism and healthy eating certainly have grown in popularity. But, that said, Southern folks still like fried food. And, in Texas and Bell Country, we love chicken-fried steak. Always have, and for at least the near future, always will.
Nothing beats a crispy, crusty fried steak smothered in country gravy. It’s a natural pick for Bell County’s favorite dish. Like the kolache, chicken friend steak originated in Texas, the product of eastern Europeans who adapted the dish from wiener schnitzel, which is similarly cooked but uses veal and breadcrumbs.
So, there’s a few options. It’s time to name the Unofficial Dish of Bell County. But first, my input.
I love me some Mexican food — burritos are my favorite. And, when I’m not chowing down on a breakfast burrito or taco, I’m at Kolache Kitchen devouring a sausage, jalapeño and cheddar pastry. And, although my consumption level had dropped drastically in recent years, chicken-fried steak still ranks high. So, my pick?
I give you the kolacharito. Yep, tasty kolache pastries stuffed with burrito fixin’s and smothered in country gravy…yummy.
Ok, back to reality.
In a very informal poll conducted on the Our Town Temple Facebook page, the top pick for our unofficial county dish is…drumroll, please … chicken-fried steak.
Our new county dish received 40 percent of the vote, but kolaches were right there with 39 percent. Hmmm….maybe chicken-fried kolacharitos ARE just around the corner after all!
Judy West of Temple was not surprised by the support kolaches received.
“We have such a strong Czech influence in the eastern part of the county,” she said. “Kolaches are a favorite.”
In a bit of a shocker, tacos were third with just 11 percent of the vote, and barbecue and Blue Bell ice cream both garnered close to 5 percent of the tally.
Amazingly, the hamburger did not receive a single vote, but sausage burgers — made famous by Green’s Sausage House in Zabcikville — had one.
“Green’s sausage and kraut burger is unique and delicious,” said Robyn Skrhak of Rogers. “I haven’t seen that on a menu anywhere else.”
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A new exhibit documenting the 1873 cross-country journey of two extraordinary artists will be on display at the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum through Nov. 7.
Artists Jules Tavernier and Paul Frenzeny captured and created many images of the American frontier such as A Balloon Flight and Arkansas Pilgrims.
Artists captured America’s frontier life
By DAVID STONE, Our Town exclusive
In the months following the opening of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, Americans living on the East Coast went bonkers for news about the wild West. It’s no surprise that a couple brothers in the newspaper business wanted to capitalize on the nation’s new fascination.
The Harper & Brothers publishing firm in New York — known for their news magazines Harper’s Weekly and Harper’s Bazaar — decided to launch a series about the journey West featuring sketches and illustrations. The company chose French artists Jules Tavernier and Paul Frenzeny to capture and create images of the frontier.
A new traveling exhibition documenting the 1873 overland journey of these extraordinary artists — A Great Frontier Odyssey: Sketching the American West — will be on display at Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum through Nov. 7.
Tavernier and Frenzeny were skilled at depicting newsworthy places and events that favored the plight of the common man, and the reading public followed the artists’ journey west in the Harper’s Weekly series Journal of Civilization.
Tavernier created each engraving’s watercolor painting, then Frenzeny added newsworthy details and drew the scene in pencil on wood blocks. The engravings depicted in detail their journey from New York to San Francisco and introduced the true American West to millions.
The exhibit at Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum includes 40 framed engravings, two reproduction watercolors, artifacts from the Tavernier’s family — including items from the family’s candy business in France — and education materials for all ages.
Both artists hailed from France, and they came to the American frontier and their documentary project with fresh eyes.
Frenzeny was one of the leading correspondents in the United States and Europe when woodcuts rather than photographs were used to illustrate newspaper articles. He later illustrated popular novels such as Jungle Book and also worked as a rider in the London version of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
Tavernier became one of the American West’s greatest artists. After his work for Harper & Brothers, he stayed in California and created many Western-inspired works of art. He opened studios in San Francisco and Monterey.
The Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum is located at 315 W. Avenue B in downtown Temple in the historic Santa Fe Depot. For additional information call (254) 298-5172 or visit www.templerrhm.org.
The Baylor Scott & White Vasicek Cancer Treatment Center expansion project should be completed by early 2022 and the first patients likely will be treated in the new Temple facility during spring months.
With 27,000 additional square feet and new equipment, the expanded center will be able to treat an additional 70 patients every day. David Stone photo
Cancer center expansion continues
By DAVID STONE, Our Town exclusive
While the COVID-19 pandemic curtailed many construction and expansion plans at area medical facilities, the biggest project at Baylor Scott & White in Temple is nearing completion.
The construction of a new radiation oncology facility at Vasicek Cancer Treatment Center in Temple was delayed during 2020 but resumed late last year and is expected to be in operation by this spring, according to Dr. Niloyjyoti Deb, chairman of radiation oncology at the Temple hospital.
“Construction started in October 2019 but was halted because of the pandemic,” he said. “Work resumed in November 2020 but we have had to extend the completion date.”
According to BSW spokesman Deke Jones, the project should be complete by early 2020 and the first patients likely will be treated in the new facility during spring months.
With 27,000 additional square footage and new equipment, the facility will be able to treat an additional 70 patients every day, Deb said.
“The addition will be adjacent to the existing Vasicek Cancer Treatment Center and will allow patients to receive all cancer treatments in one location,” he said. “Right now, radiation oncology is located in the hospital. It’s not far from the treatment center, but being in one place will be a tremendous help and convenience to our patients.”
The expansion will give Vasicek Cancer Treatment Center additional treatment rooms, a conference center, more space for planning and offices, and the latest in cancer-fighting equipment, including two TrueBeam linear accelerators and a top-of-the-line CAT scan machine.
“The linear accelerators will give us the ability to perform very specialized procedures,” Deb said. “The new facility will greatly improve the overall patient experience and allow us to perform more high-level procedures.”
TPD to open Renata Square substation
The Temple Police Department will hold a ceremony at 9 a.m. Thursday for the opening of a new substation at Renata Square Apartments, 1811 E Avenue K.
The Renata Square station has been in the works for almost a year.
“The goal is for officers to be able to work while out in the community as well as be more accessible to residents located on the east side of Temple,” Police Chief Shawn Reynolds said.
The purpose of the substation is to provide residents with a safe and convenient access to officers and to engage and build relationships with the community, Reynolds said.
Two officers will be assigned to the Renata Square station. If officers are not at the facility, call (254) 298-5911 for assistance.
The substation is available to all officers in the Temple Police Department when they are working in the field, Reynolds said.
City seeks applicants for youth commission
The city of Temple is seeking service-minded teens to join the new Youth Advisory Commission.
“This commission will be a group of students who are interested in what it means to be a responsible citizen,” Program Coordinator Miranda Lugo said. “We’re going to be doing work that has a positive impact on the community around us.”
The Commission will advise the City Council and city staff on matters pertaining to youth. It will also serve as a coordinating group for youth leaders who are committed to learning about local government and the roles youths may play in it.
Commission members must either reside within the city of Temple or attend a public or private school located within the city or the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. Applicants will serve one-year appointments and meetings will start in the fall.
Applications will be available through Sept. 30. For more information, visit templetx.gov/yac or call (254) 800-5381.
September 8, Wednesday - Open Mic Comedy, Corky’s. Sign up at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m.
September 9, Thursday - Martian Folk live band, Corky’s, 7 p.m.
September 10, Friday - Madstone live at O’Briens Irish Pub, 9 p.m.
September 10, Friday - John Henry Johnson live at Fire Base Brewing Company, 6:30 p.m.
September 10, Friday - Josh Abbott Band live at Johnny’s Steaks and Bar-Be-Que, Salado. 6 p.m.
September 10, Friday - Clint Walker Blues Band, Fire Street Pizza, Belton. 6 p.m.
September 10, Friday - First Friday Karaoke with DJ Brian Houge. 8 p.m.
September 11, Saturday - Dueling Pianos in the Park, Sam Farrow Amphitheater at Lions Park, 7-9 p.m.
September 11, Saturday - A Sami Show Arts & Crafts Market, Bell County Expo Center. 10 a.m.
September 11, Saturday - Weird Science. Explore different adaptations animals have made through presentations, fun games, and activities. Bell County Museum. 11 a.m.
September 11, Saturday - Name That Tune Bingo: All-American Songs, Fire Base Brewing Company, 7:30 p.m.
September 11, Saturday - Pink Fishing’s Reeling in the Cure, 6th annual bass tournament. Proceeds benefit breast cancer patients and cancer research. Cedar Ridge Park. 6 a.m. Call (254) 681-0102 for details.
September 11, Saturday - 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb & Ceremony. Wildcat Stadium. 7-11 a.m.
September 11, Saturday - Rescue Magazine’s Pet Adoption Extravaganza. There will almost 400 Animals up for adoption and fun for the whole family. Bell County Expo Center. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
September 11, Saturday - Turn 2 Entertainment Comedy Showcase, Corky’s, 8 p.m.
September 12, Sunday - A Sami Show Arts & Crafts Market, Bell County Expo Center. 10 a.m.
September 12, Sunday - Corky’s Dart Tournament, 3 p.m.
September 12, Sunday - Rescue Magazine’s Pet Adoption Extravaganza. There will almost 400 Animals up for adoption and fun for the whole family. Bell County Expo Center. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
September 13, Monday - Third House Session with State Rep. Hugh Shine, Belton Area Chamber of Commerce, 7 a.m.
September 15, Wednesday - Tiny Thinkers, Kids 5 years old and younger are invited to the museum to experience the State Fair! Bell County Museum. 10 a.m.
September 17, Friday - Matt Cearley & The Rowdy Few live at O’Briens Irish Pub, 9 p.m.
September 17, Friday - Wade Ralston live at Fire Base Brewing Company, 6:30 p.m.
September 17, Friday - Neal McCoy, Cotton Country Club, Granger. 9:30 p.m.
September 18, Saturday - The Chancers, O’Briens Irish Pub, 9 p.m.
September 18, Saturday - Night Bright Bike Ride, Pepper Creek Train off North Kegley. Bring a non-perishable food item to donate to local food pantries. Trail parking is available at the Scott & White West Campus next to the hospital's parking lot. Look for green trail signs along FM 2305 and Kegley Road to direct you to the parking area. 6:30-9 p.m.
September 18, Saturday - Harvest Celebration. Bring your family and friends to enjoy grape stomping, food trucks, music, and wine. This is a ticketed event. 3 Texans Winery. 6 p.m.
September 18, Saturday - Detox/Retox Yoga, Fire Base Brewing Company, 11 a.m.
September 18, Saturday - Original Debonaires Reunion Dance, Cotton Country Club, Granger. 8:30 p.m.
September 21, Tuesday - Body of Christ Community Clinic’s Together We Heal Banquet, UMHB, Jimmy Dorrell, keynote speaker. 5:30 p.m.
September 24, Friday - Maxx Carter live at Fire Base Brewing Company, 6:30 p.m.
September 24, Friday - Belton Bacon, Blues & Brews Festival, noon to 9 p.m.
September 24, Friday - Aaron Watson, Cotton Country Club, Granger. 9:30 p.m.
September 25, Saturday - Name That Tune Bingo: Belt it Out Edition. Fire Base Brewing Company, 7:30 p.m.
September 25, Saturday - Belton Bacon, Blues & Brews Festival, noon to 9 p.m.
September 25, Saturday - Fun at the Fair! Join us at the museum to for fun at the fair! View the newest exhibit and take part in fun activities - explore symmetry by decorating a popcorn bucket, build your own mini rollercoaster, race your family in duck races, and visit our petting zoo! Bell County Museum. 11 a.m.
September 25, Saturday - Dale Watson, Texas Music Series, Cultural Activities Center. 7:30 p.m.
September 30, Thursday - TLC’s Celebration of Crazy, Sexy Cool with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Bell County Expo Center. 7:30 p.m.
September 30, Thursday - Funniest Comic in Texas semi-finals. Corky’s.
October 1, Friday - Randy Rogers Band, Johnny Steaks and Bar-Be-Que, Salado. 6 p.m.
October 5, Tuesday - Temple’s National Night Out. Anyone interested in hosting a party in their neighborhood should register by Sept. 13 at templetx.gov/nno. 6:30 p.m.
October 7, Thursday - The Spazmatics, Schoepf’s BBQ, Belton. 6 p.m.
October 8, Friday - Painting with a Twist, 3 Texans Winery. 6:30 p.m.
October 9, Saturday - Shinyribs, Texas Music Series,Cultural Activities Center. 7:30 p.m.
October 9, Saturday - Oktoberfest 2021, Barrow Brewing Company, Salado, noon to 10:30 p.m.
October 11-17 - Hocus Pocus, The Beltonian Theatre, Belton. Noon.
October 16, Saturday - Oktoberfest 2021, Barrow Brewing Company, Salado, noon to 10:30 p.m.
October 16, Saturday - Michael Salgado at Schoepf’s BBQ in Belton, 6 p.m.
October 18-23 - The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Beltonian, Belton. 6-8 p.m.
October 23, Saturday - Don Gregory Memorial Lions Club Golf Tournament. Sammons Golf Course. Contact Jeffrey Thigpen Thigpen.firstname.lastname@example.org to register or for sponsorship opportunities. 4-person scramble begins at 8:30 a.m.
October 23, Saturday - Free Movie Night. Harker Heights Community Park. 5 p.m.
October 23, Saturday - Oktoberfest 2021, Barrow Brewing Company, Salado, noon to 10:30 p.m.
October 29, Friday - Season closing event, Domestics vs Imports, Little River Dragway, 7 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - Barktoberfest, Dog costume contest at 5:30; adoptable dogs on site. Barrow Brewing Co., Salado. 1-7 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - Bulls & BBQ, Live bull riding followed by concert with Jake Worthington and Keith Braxton. Schoepf’s BBQ, Belton, Noon.
November 4, Thursday - Spur Classic Sporting Clay Shoot, Weber Shooting Range. 8 a.m.
November 6, Saturday - Chris Hillman, Texas Music Series,Cultural Activities Center. 7:30 p.m.
November 13, Saturday - Market in the Vines. Take a walk through the vines and shop with over 50 vendors! Free to the public. 3 Texans Winery. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
November 18, Thursday - Taste of the Holidays 2021: A Candy Cane Christmas. Mayborn Convention Center. 10:30 a.m.
December 4, Saturday - Barrow Brewing Christmas Market, Salado. Noon.
Have an event you would like to promote? Email info to OurTownTemple@gmail.com with “What’s Happening” in the subject line. Keep it short and sweet — what, when and where. You may include a short description. You must include a phone number for verification purposes. The phone number will not be published unless requested by submitter.