CHITCHAT CORNER

Albert's Mexican Village

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In response to several requests, I’ve dusted off a Kilgore News Herald article from 2003 and refurbished it with some new.

THE EAST TEXAS oil boom and the Kilgore College Rangerettes were not the only things to put Kilgore “on the map.” We can’t forget the hot sauce – Albert’s Mexican Hot Sauce.

Made by Albert Madariago, Albert’s Famous Mexican Hot Sauce first sold to the public in 1940 within the family-owned restaurant called the Mexican Village Restaurant. At the time, the restaurant was located on N. Kilgore Street near the old telephone office. It was known to serve the best Mexican food in the country and families as far away as Jacksonville would arrive to enjoy the steaks served in the restaurant.

“Cars would park nose-to-nose up and down the streets on weekends and one never left there hungry,” said Fay Davis. “All you could eat was $1.75 and steaks were $2.65. “Our kids, (Gayle and Gary) would rush in from school, toss their books on the washer and head right over there to eat and Everett would settle up with Albert every Saturday morning.”

“The food was served on steel platters,” said Bernie Westbrook. “It was the only restaurant I ever ate at that served food on steel platters. And the hot sauce was served with crackers not chips.”

Bob Bustin confirmed the use of steel platters. “I was a regular,” he continued. “They were real nice to me and I would go into the kitchen to visit while they were cooking. The cooks would throw tortillas in hot grease, cook the filling and put it all on steel platters and place them in the oven. They food was always served as hot as you could stand it and the platters held the heat.

“It is true,” confessed Bob. “I drank the hot sauce from a cup and never bothered with the crackers. It was that good.

Pecan Pralines that reportedly would melt in the mouth were given away with each meal. That recipe, too, was cherished within the family, but was given to one Kilgoreite, Dude Mullins, with the promise she would keep the secret. Before dying, she passed that recipe on to one other “outsider” with the promise to keep it secret.

As good as the pralines were, it was Albert’s Hot Sauce that made the restaurant famous.

In 1969, Albert sold his hot sauce recipe to the J.R. Morris family. Operating as Jananna Foods, Inc., the hot sauce was their primary item for shipping. In 2009, Jananna Foods, Inc. sold to Jack Smitherman and the hot sauce remains their number one product.

“We distribute to Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas,” said Cara Smitherman. The sauce can be found in some of the biggest grocery chains such as Brookshire’s, Albertsons, Kroger and Wal-Mart. “Their distribution centers cover states ours does not.” On-line ordering is now available at Albertsfamousmexicanhotsauce.com.

Albert’s Mexican Village, no longer in existence, remains to be fond memories for those who had the pleasure of visiting.

YOU WOULD THINK spring has sprung in Kilgore with all of the green peaking through on the lawns and the trees starting to bud. “Not yet,” warned Debbie at Stone Road Farm and Garden Center. “I believe we will be seeing more ice even if it is at Easter.”

“Warn your readers,” said Eddie Holley. The snakes are out. I saw one crossing Gladewater Highway this week.” Others have reported seeing the slithering things as well.

DID YOU KNOW a Texas Marine Corp once actually existed? The Texas Congress formally authorized a Marine Corps to serve with the Texas Navy and appointed Marine Capt. S.R. Fisher Secretary of the Navy.

The Corps possessed certain marks of distinction. It was the only Marine Unit that used the tomahawk as a standard issue weapon and the only Marine organization to have been led ashore into battle by the Secretary of the Navy.

May His Love and Laughter Fill Your Hearts and Your Homes Throughout the Week. In the meantime, we may be reached at chitchatlinda@aol.com or 903-984-2593.

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