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 May 11, 2008
Great God Beef Dish (chicken fried steak)

Jerry Flemmons (1936-1999) was a popular writer on the Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram. His 1983 essay on chicken fried steak—“that Great God beef dish”—is widely quoted.


Society of Professional Journalists-Fort Worth Newsletter
October 1999
ORNERY GRACE AND A TRUE TEXAS SOUL:
JERRY FLEMMONS, 1936-1999
by Mike Blackman
Jerry Flemmons, who died Sept. 17 at age 63, probably did more than anyone over the last three decades to keep the Star-Telegram’s head above the murky waters of newspaper mediocrity.

He did it with his writing. Imaginative, precise.

He did it with his editing. The travel section he edited for more than 20 years was one of the nation’s most honored.

He did it with versatility. The UT tower shootings, the Wichita Falls tornado, the mythical Fort Worth Strangers—all exhibit the fluid, understated Flemmons touch.

He did it with his prickly personality. There was never an assignment he couldn’t fault, a new boss who wasn’t flawed, a page one that didn’t mystify. But, my, how he overcame.

Finally, he did it with his heart. Read his stories, you know what I mean; talk to the young ones in our business who sought his guidance; ask his friends, who embraced his gentle comfort as an antidote for every grief du jour. 

Google Books
Plowboys, Cowboys and Slanted Pigs
A collection by Jerry Flemmons
Fort Worth, TX: TCU Press
1984
Pg. 105 (Texas Cusine - 1983):
As splendid and noble as barbecue and Tex-Mex are, both pale before that Great God Beef dish, chicken-fried steak.

No single food better defines the Texas character; it has, in fact, become a kind of nutritive metaphor for the romanticized, prairie-hardened personality of Texans. Chicken-fried steak is the toughest piece of beef, tenderized and civilized and brought to the table as the nucleus of a royal feast, the hub of what nationally syndicated columnist Liz Smith (a Texan) called “a 5,000-calorie meal.”

Houston (TX) Press
Chicken-Fried Honor
George’s civic slur

By Robb Walsh
Published: January 11, 2001
(...)
Not that I am an authority. I have been eating chicken-fried steak (or CFS, as it is known in the trade) for only 30 years, and writing about it for ten. I hope someday to become a full-fledged expert, like Bud Kennedy of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, who can describe the nuances of every CFS in every small-town cafe within a 100-mile radius of the Fort Worth stockyards. Kennedy learned from a master, the late Jerry Flemmons, also a columnist at the Star-Telegram.

“As splendid and noble as barbecue and Tex-Mex are, both pale before that Great God Beef dish, chicken-fried steak,” wrote Flemmons. “No single food better defines the Texas character; it has, in fact, become a kind of nutritive metaphor for the romanticized, prairie-hardened personality of Texans.”

Flemmons and his buddy Dan Jenkins hung out at an old Fort Worth roadhouse called Massey’s, which is famous for its CFS and ice-cold beer served in frozen cannonball-sized schooners. Jenkins wrote a comic riff about chicken-fried steak in his novel, Baja Oklahoma. Only after years of studying these masters of CFS literature did I dare to try writing about the “Great God Beef dish” myself.

Homesick Texan
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Independence and chicken-fried steak
(...)
If you still have reservations about chicken-fried steak, consider these words from the late Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Jerry Flemmons: “As splendid and noble as barbecue and Tex-Mex are, both pale before that Great God Beef dish, chicken-fried steak. No single food better defines the Texas character; it has, in fact, become a kind of nutritive metaphor for the romanticized, prairie-hardened personality of Texans.” High praise, indeed!

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Sunday, May 11, 2008 • Permalink