Visiting Historic West, Texas to Czech Out the Delicacies
by Stacy Curtis
A visit to historic West, Texas reveals the delicious present.
You'd think that the town of West, Texas would be located in west Texas, wouldn't you? Nope. It's on on the eastern side of I-35, in the center of Texas, just north of Waco. It wasn't named for its location, it was named for its first postmaster, T. M. West. Its nickname is "the Kolache Capital of Texas," and I wanted to find out why.
What's a "kolache"? It's a pastry originating from central Europe, primarily Czechoslovakia. Now, I know what you're thinking. An American town smack in the center of the country is the best place to get a Czech pastry? Yep. In fact, other midwestern towns claim similar titles: Montgomery, Minnesota says that they're the "Kolacky capital of the world." Verdigre, Nebraska, make the same claim with each year at their Kolache Days festivities. Want to experience "the world's largest kolache? Apparently you can find it in Prague, Nebraska.
Naturally when I passed by West, Texas I couldn't choose just one place to get a great kolache - I tried out two. The kolache billboards have always teased me as I travel through West, but I was always in a hurry to get home. This trip I took the time to "Czech" it out!
West is also known as the Czech capital of Texas; they certainly proved that to me. My first stop was Gerik's Ole Czech Bakery, which was filled with local breakfast patrons (always a good sign). Their selection ranged from the savory (sausage, egg, bacon) to sweet (cherry, cream cheese, peach), and the unusual (skunk egg).
We quickly learned what a skunk egg kolache was filled with: jalapeño, bacon, chicken, onion, and three kinds of cheese. Skunk indeed! Though it was a local favorite, we stayed away from that stinker. Their cherry cream cheese was a sweet melt-in-mouth experience, though.
We also tasted yummy kolaches from the Czech Stop and Little Czech Bakery, whose motto is: "Delicious Is Our Business." Their unusual assortment of baked goods included beer bread French toast and raisin bread French toast - along with copies of the recipes right on the counter.
The friendly people and great kolaches enticed me to plan another trip in the near future, perhaps during the Westfest Czech/Polka Festival held on Labor Day weekend. Who could resist a kolache baking contest, a parade of Czech costumes, cultural music/dance, games, and much more.
If you've ever had the urge to pull off the road near West, Texas, I urge you to give in. You will be glad you did!
What else is there to do with kids in West, Texas? To be honest, there aren't many other must-dos for families with kids passing through. But if you're there on Labor Day weekend, stop in for the Westfest Polka Festival. Over 20,000 each year enjoy food, entertainment, and family fun.
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©2011, Stacy Curtis.
Stacy Curtis is a freelance writer based in Fort Worth, Texas.