The Republic is in mortal danger. Regular readers of this space know that I am on an ever-constant vigil to make sure our liberties are protected, whether from the Evil Empire (Richardson and Plano), City bureaucrats and politicians, or anyone else who tries to stick it to us.

Yet the news I am reporting this month makes all of my previous warnings seem like nothing worse than a day at the State Fair with a free supply of Corny Dogs.

Dallas’ Only Daily Newspaper reported last month that the people who invented nouvelle cuisine, goat cheese pizza, and $200 dinners that were nothing more than a chicken breast in a white sauce have now invented something called Texas Ranch Cuisine.

And two of the staples of this Texas Ranch Cuisine are – brace yourself, now – chicken-fried steak and barbecue.

I shudder at what this means. Will I now need to be one of the Beautiful People to get into Matt’s Rancho Martinez to eat my chicken-fried steak covered with chili, cheese and onions? Will Dan’s Lakewood Cafe replace its torn vinyl booths with Mansion-like banquettes? Will Barbec’s on the other side of the lake start taking reservations and serving jicama coleslaw?

“Well, I wouldn’t worry about that,” says Barry Brown, who runs Barbec’s with wife Becky and has seen a food trend or two come and go.

He has seen so many trends come and go, in fact, that he missed this one until I called. So much for the influence of the food writer at Dallas’ Only Daily Newspaper.

“We serve a lot of chicken-fry, and a year from now, we’ll still be serving a lot of chicken-fry,” Barry says. “I guess they could glorify it, but there’s not much they can do to change it.”

A point well-taken, and one that heartens the spirit. Still, we must remain always wary.

That’s because I detect a conspiracy of monstrous proportions here – almost as large as the chicken-fry at Matt’s. It’s pretty suspicious that one of the restaurants mentioned in the article was Rancho Martinez’ little sister, Matt’s No Place.

The same people who gave us Southwestern Cuisine a decade ago – with its lobster tacos, society chefs and elitist food writers – seem to have devised this Texas Ranch Cuisine. And I can’t imagine that they did it for our benefit.

After all, Southwestern Cuisine has something created in the go-go ’80s to fleece the rich, who had made their money by fleecing us. There was some sort of poetic justice in a savings and loan land-flipper paying $45 for nouilles avec cinq fromage – or, as it is better known, macaroni and cheese.

But the land-flippers and the wheeler-dealers are gone, either broke or behind bars (or, if we’re lucky, both). Unfortunately, that leaves the rest of us to endure Texas Ranch Cuisine – and whatever food crimes it perpetrates on our palates.

Anyone – whether chef or food writer – who will appropriate chicken-fry and ribs so they can get some national publicity obviously has few scruples.

I can deal with the idea that too much chicken-fry will wreak havoc with my arteries, or that an excess of barbecue will turn my heart into North Central Expressway at rush hour.

What I can’t deal with is someone telling me that eating cream gravy will make me hip. If I wanted to be hip, I wouldn’t be eating cream gravy in the first place.

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