Bluebell Creamery and Barbecue Brisket

Seeing as how this blog is called the Bible and culture, sometimes we focus more on the culture side of things.  And with this recent ministry trip to Katy Texas we ran smack dab into all sorts of Texas culture, in particular its food culture, and if you haven’t sampled Texas food culture, then  you have lived a deprived existence,  I am sorry to say.   In particular, if you have not sampled Bluebell (named after the flower) ice cream or  barbecue brisket,  you have not yet encountered the finest Texas has to offer.   O.K.,  so its not quite the same as seeing a Rembrandt, but heck, you can’t eat a Rembrandt.  Texans take seriously the fulfilling of  Isaiah55.2b as the King James would have it— ‘delight thyself in fatness…’.   And whether its meat fat or butter fat,  it sure tastes good in Texas.   God bless Texas.    So, on my one afternoon off, this past Monday I requested that we visit Bluebell Creamery which is an hour and a bit north of Houston.   They make ice cream the old fashioned way.  It’s a mom and pop operation and there are only three plants in the whole U.S. that make it.   The original one is the one we went to visit, to sample their butter pecan and Dutch chocolate ice cream, amongst other flavors.  Yes, we took the tour and saw how 60,000 cows have to work hard every day to produce enough milk to produce the amount of ice cream this one company puts out in a given day.   All  I can say is,  if eating ice cream in Lent is sin, there are a huge bunch of sinners in Texas.    And the other food emporium we visited was several barbecue joints.   Now Texas barbecue joints are noted for their spartan attire, and exotic critters on display.   For example,  you will see in this post a woolly mammoth, a big brown bear, and my personal favorite, a bison with a saddle on it.   Oh yeah,  I forgot the antler Christmas tree.  If that ain’t Christian culture, I don’t know what is.   So while you are eating your jalapeno cheese bread and brisket, and sausage and cole slaw and potato salad, and wolfing down sweet tea and then some pecan pie,   you get to view other creatures standing around who are just as stuffed as you are when you finish.     Texans don’t do anything by halves,  so you need to be careful what size Barbecue plate you order, or for that matter what sized ice cream cone you order.   The latter requires more caution most of the year in Houston cause if you walk outside with the cone, you will hardly make it to the car before the whole thing melts on your hand.   And that is a horrible waste of perfectly good Bluebell Ice Cream.

I would advise all good Christians at some point to go to Texas and sample its divine cuisine and outsized food emporiums.   Along the way you might even meet some of God’s creatures you have never seen before.   As the man says,  you are what you eat,  so when you visit an outsized food emporium, be prepared to become an outsized human being.  I am proud to say that after this trip, there is more of me for my wife to love :)

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  • Robert

    When were you in Katy? I live in Houston and would be sad if I missed an opportunity to hear you speak.

    Blue Bell Ice Cream is a treat…and one to be enjoyed often!

  • Ben Witherington

    Last Saturday through Tuesday morning.

  • Kelly Lawson

    I am an ATS grad (May 2010), and remember the day I was in the Nicholasville Kroger, and discovered that Blue Bell had finally made it to Kentucky! It was a joyous and momentous occasion. I stood in the store and called all of my Wilmore friends who were also from Texas, to share the good news. It really is THAT good!

  • Mike

    I’m glad you got to visit our fine state (and our fine city of Katy, too). Were you speaking? I would have attended if I had known.

    I’m glad you’re spreading the virtues of Blue Bell to your readership. I was probably 12 or 13 before I realized the whole country wasn’t able to get Blue Bell. To add to your theme of “outsizing”, their slogan has been, for as long as I can remember, “We eat all we can and we sell the rest”. We’re better off for it!

    I’ve got to ask, which bar-b-que establishments did you try? I’d guess Goode Company was one of them based on you mentioning Jalapeno corn bread and pecan pie.

  • ben witherington

    Hi Mike: Yes I went to Goode Company on the way to the airport, and frankly it wasn’t as good as the local establishment in Katy, not by a long shot.


  • Steve Scarborough

    I lived in Austin, TX for 54 years. During quite a few of those years, someone held a gun to my head and forced me to choke down copious quantities of Blue Bell. Hence, it is totally not my fault that I gained way too much weight.

    In short Blue Bell ice cream is evil. It is to be feared. It is the devil. LOL.

    This great company (“We eat all we can and sell all the rest.” Or, sometimes there are commercials with singing cows.) now has extended it’s marketing out here in the boondocks in New Mexico where I live.

    That same gun is coming back to force me to partake again!

    Long live Blue Bell!

  • Marlin

    The antler tree and wooly mammoth are at Midway BBQ in Katy, TX the better of the two bbq establishments visited on this trip. It was a great series, Ben!

  • Bill

    Ben – Welcome to the Republic! We’re glad you found our state treasures.

    Hopefully next time you visit you can try Holy Smoke BBQ north of Houston in Huntsville. It is run my Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church. No smok’n, drink’n or cuss’n – just eat’n good BBQ.

    To have a real treat, come down after the peaches have come in and put a big dollop of Vanilla Bean Blue Bell on a fresh warm peach pie.

    And to think heaven is better than those two jewels :)

  • ben witherington

    Wait, you mean there isn’t ice cream and barbecue in heaven? If that’s true I’m coming back.


  • Shlomy Goldman

    Dear Ben,

    I am a devoted reader of your blog. And While I take a strong liking to your theology and cultural reflections, I must say that I find your enthusiasm about BBQ quite unappealing. Not all good Christians eat the beef you know. When in Texas, I prefer the vegan food trucks in Austin.

    Love and and blessings to you nonetheless! :)

  • ben witherington

    It’s o.k. Shlomy, you may have my collard greens anytime :)


  • Jeremiah Isley

    I should not have read this post with lunch being so distant! A fair warning would have been nice!

    Sounds like your trip was delicious!



  • Nathan

    Ben, I found your blog from two of my professors at HGST (Dr. Pitts and Dr. Gustafson). Midway BBQ in Katy is the best around and I really enjoyed your take on Blue Bell. I grew up in Katy and went many time to the Blue Bell factory. Midway BBQ is one of favorite spots- I personally enjoy their brisket and sausage. Hopefully the old man working behind the counter was friendly to you. I am currently stationed in North Carolina and greatly miss Midway and Texas BBQ and my wife really misses Blue Bell. Glad you are enjoying your time in Houston and that you enjoyed visiting Katy.