Western history

Buffalo Gals


My quest for Western history and adventure took me down a new path. Joined by my Yellowstone pal, Carol, our journey took us out on the eastern plains of Colorado to visit the remains of the African-American ghost town of Dearfield. A photo shoot on a hot July day yielded plenty of material for a future article.

That evening, we met up with another friend, Helen, in Severance, Colorado, for a dinner of Rocky Mountain oysters at Bruce’s Bar and Grill. These oysters, which have nothing to do with the ones you find at the seashore, are prepared from [um, how can I put this …] the delicate parts of bulls which are removed when they are neutered during branding. They are either considered a delicacy in cowboy culture, or are portrayed as such to segregate those with true Western grit from tinhorns and flatlanders. My curiosity evolved when the subject came up on the Women Writing the West e-bulletin board. The time had come for me to experience them for myself, in the interest of journalistic and historic research, of course.

Bruce’s is definitely the place to go for “oysters” in Northern Colorado. It is their specialty and they serve up plenty of them. They know how to cook them properly, a prerequisite for the discerning diner, or anybody with a healthy survival instinct.  Bruce’s Bar, a roomy, friendly, lively roadhouse, puts the little town of Severance on the map. It is the chosen destination for hungry families, bikers, and ranchers for miles around, and those of us looking for a little adventure and a new experience. Our outing had been on the calendar for some time, and as the date loomed, I was a little wary. However, our appetites were healthy after our outdoor research jaunt in the hot sun, and we were ready to eat just about anything. Almost.

We all decided to order bison, um, fries rather than the beef variety when the waitress assured us bison was more tender. It was a good choice. Our bison fries were served much like fried chicken strips with French fries in a heaping full basket lined with paper, with a ketchup-based dipping sauce on the side. They tasted fine. The sauce lacked pizazz, so we switched to either mustard or ranch dressing (blue cheese dressing would have been ideal). A good wheat beer with lemon, kept close at hand much like a fire extinguisher, was a good beverage choice. (No wine pairing suggested here!) The “oysters” were tender and mild with a faint liver taste and a consistency which was not the least bit chewy. The whole experience was fairly anti-climactic as we chatted and munched on our fries. All in all, the outing was fun and memorable.

I doubt I will go out of my way to order Rocky Mountain Oysters again, but I was happy with the experience. I will gladly go back to Bruce’s in Severance whenever friends nudge me in that direction. Just twist my arm.

Joyce Lohse, 7/26/09