A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 01, 2007
“Fine as cream gravy”

"Fine as cream gravy” appears on many recent (post-1990) lists of Texas sayings, but pre-1990 citations are few. Possibly, the phrase began as “good gravy” and then expanded to “good as gravy” and “fine as gravy” and then, finally, “fine as cream gravy.”

Cream Gravy is served with chicken fried steak and many other Texas dishes.


Texas Cooking
Texas-Style Chicken Fried Steak with Cream Gravy
It is hard to get much more Texan than Chicken Fried Steak.
(...)
Cream Gravy
After the cutlets are removed from the pan, pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of oil, keeping as many as possible of the browned bits in the pan. Heat the oil over medium heat until hot.

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons flour (use the left-over flour from the chicken fried steak recipe) in the hot oil. Stir with a wooden spoon, quickly, to brown the flour.

Gradually stir in 3/4 cup milk and 3/4 cup water, mixed together, stirring constantly with the wooden spoon and mashing out any lumps. Lower heat, and gravy will begin to thicken. Continue cooking and stirring a few minutes until gravy reaches desired thickness. Check seasonings and add more salt and pepper according to your taste.

More Texas Talkin’
I’m fine as cream gravy. 

Western Slang & Phrases
Fine as cream gravy ~ very good, top notch. 

Worldwide Gourmet - “Flavors of Texas”
Another uniquely Texan menu item is chicken-fried steak. Sound confusing? It’s really just what it sounds like: steak prepared like fried chicken. It is first seasoned and tenderized, breaded by dipping into flour, egg and sometimes bread crumbs, and then fried in a cast-iron skillet. It’s served with “cream gravy” made from the pan drippings, browned flour and milk. And incidentally, for a Texan to say that something is “fine as cream gravy” is high praise indeed!

12 June 1909, Fort Wayne (IN) Daily News, pg. 11, col. 4 ad:
A Fine Cream Gravy
is made by adding a few spoonfuls of Every Day Milk to chicken, veal or steak gravy.

Google Books
Far From the Customary Skies
by Warren Eyster
New York, NY: Random House
1953
Pg. 137:
“Good as gravy,” he said, dipping another sandwich into the can. Oklahoma tried it and immediately nodded his head. “Better than gravy,” he said.

Texas Monthly (December 1994)
More Colorful Texas Sayings…
622 wise and witty ways to talk Texan.
by Anne Dingus
(...)
Fine as cream gravy.

5 August 1998, Milwaukee (WI) Journal-Sentinel:
Plaster your fridge with famous food phrases: “Good as gravy”... 

Google Books
The Way West
by A. B. Guthrie
Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Books
2002
Pg. 290:
“Good as gravy,” Hig answered. 

9 June 2006, Placerville (CA) Mountain Democrat, “Wagon Train arrives on Founders’ Day” by Wendy Schultz, pg. A3, cols. 5-6:
Mountainmen and women in their “critter” hats will be looking fine as cream gravy and beautiful, powerful horses will be pulling wagons and sporting riders.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Saturday, December 01, 2007 • Permalink