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Bear Board Restaurant Review

This article first appeared in issue 22, and was written by Ed Waggener.

Tourists and native Egyptians alike love Lois Feese Janes' Bear Meat

If you are in a war, and you come upon a person claiming to be an American from Adair County, just ask her/him, "Have you ever eaten bear meat?"

That is better'n asking baseball statistics, because any native or born-again Adair Countian ought to have eaten bear meat by the time they are old enough to eat with a knife and spoon, whereas an alien, in an on- or off-planet war may have savored bear meat, but won't give you the same answer because they are not really, through-and-through, Adair County.

Their response should not be, "Gee. Golly. Sure."

For then you know that you have an infiltrator and under the Adair County Code of War you would then shoot them.

The correct answer is, "Which kind?"

In all likelihood, the prisoner who answered thataway is named Walker, Streeval, Montgomery, Burton or similar such name, and he'll be telling you the truth.

Your hunch will be validated when he/she asks, "Like the kind m 'en deddy shot and skint and et before he et us? Or the kind you get at the Egypt Store?"

At that point you can drop your weapon, offer a chew of Red Man, hunker down, forget the war and talk about back home, school superintendency, which of Bill O. Corbin's daughters was the most beautiful, the high price of gas in Columbia, whether Haskin Rowe was a better foul shooter than Walter Baker was a scholar, and whether the greatest billiards player was Tommy Powell or Shorty Burton. You know your day is going better.

"The kind you get

at Egypt Store."

This report is not a treatise on Bears.

It is an essay on healthy living and proper diet; it is about the pragmatism and inventive genius of a great people.

The Egyptians have given Adair County so much to be proud of:

*There's the quintessential product of Calvin Cooley's sorghum mill, deemed by many to be the best long sweetening ever put down a human goozle pipe.

*Tommy Thornton

*There's the great art of George Rice; not the mail-carrier, but the one who draws pictures and paints signs.

*There's the bone densitometer, QCT, invented by Egyptian Dr. Benny Arnold, PhD.

*There's the Clear Thinking Technique developed by Mike Morris.

*There are the writings of Margaret Dunn, Jon Coomer, and other authors too numerious to mention.

Most importantly, it is the home of Bear Meat.

This is the story of Kenneth and Lois Feese Janes, who operate the Egypt Store, aka Green River Bait & Grocery.

"Bear Meat" is the proprietary name of a delicacy Mrs. Janes created some 10 years ago.

Perhaps the number one seller at the lunch counter at Green River Bait & Grocery, as it should be, is bologna, either reg'lar, on saltines, or on light bread. Most prefer saltines, because of the danger of too fresh light bread fatally sticking to the roof of your mouth.

The bologna comes in long rolls. When ordering, you do not ask for a "center cut"; that would offend the proprietor. All bologna sandwiches are made with a thick slab of center cut meat.

With the volume Mrs. Janes was doing in bologna sandwiches, there was an excess of ends, the rounded extremities of the bologna rolls. At one time, the only practical thing to do was to fatten (redbones) on them. In essence, the ends were "dog meat"-fed to the dogs.

All that changed when Mrs. Janes was struck with an inspiration. Pickle Dog, the quiled snake bologna sold from the huge glass jars was-and is-a popular item at the store. Mrs. Janes reasoned that the big bologna ends could be pickled in her own marinade, be given a catchy name, be served in generous portions at reasonable prices, and solve the bologna ends problem.

She tried it and it worked.

Today, the jar of Bear Meat occupies the same exalted shelf as its tonier cousin, Pickle Dog.

For just 50, one can get a tray of Bear Meat with a side of cracker squares, served on a sheet of oil paper.

Plowmen, tobacco cutters, bear board writers, and other men of labor-intensive professions usually have one or two orders as appetizers; while women, lawyers, school teachers, and urbanite tourists generally can make a whole meal of one 50 serving. It is all owing to what you do, and no sport is made of those who order from the appetizer side of the menu board.

On a recent trip to Egypt, I had Bear Meat for dessert. Two women in the party nibbled on the Bear Meat. I engulfed it. I come from a long line of trenchermen; I am of those Calvin Trilling would call " good eaters." After the first generous tray of the tasty morsels were consumed au naturel; I ordered a second and discovered that, while you can't improve on the ultimate, they were equally as delicious when they were fixed up: doused with hot sauce.

The trip had been a quest for the perfect $1 meal, which I would have achieved were it not for the avarice of the pop bottlers. An 80 cocola runs the tab for a Bear Meat dinner to $1.30 plus tax. Tipping is optional and I opted not.

This story was posted on 1998-11-15 12:01:01
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