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A to Z: CFS – the Freedom Fries of Texas?

Glorious Texas sunset (photo by Tui Snider)
Glorious Texas sunset (photo by Tui Snider)

What is CFS?

When I first moved to Texas, I had no idea what people around here meant by the term “CFS.” To me, it sounded like shorthand for a debilitating disease!

I eventually learned that CFS stands for, “chicken fried steak,” or, “county fried steak,” depending on whose etymology you choose. Recipes vary, but the general idea is a battered fried cutlet. In Texas restaurants, it’s usually topped with a thick white gravy flecked with black pepper and a side of mashed potatoes.

Does CFS Have European Roots?

Like the hamburger, whose origins are widely disputed, the exact origins of CFS are hard to pin down.

Here in Texas, the town of Lamesa claims to have invented the dish and even holds a yearly Chicken Fried Steak festival to prove it.

Texas storm clouds (photo by Tui Snider)
Texas storm clouds (photo by Tui Snider)

Remember Freedom Fries?

Although recipes vary, Chicken Fried Steak bears a striking resemblance to Weiner Schnitzel. Considering that Texas had a strong influx of German and Austrian immigrants in the late 1800’s, Lamesa’s claim to fame carries some weight.

It’s also interesting to note that cookbooks prior to the 1920’s refer to this dish as Weiner Schnitzel, not CFS. It’s even been suggested that due to anti-German sentiment after World War I, the name was changed to Chicken Fried Steak out of political correctness.

Why the Cloud Photos?

I must confess that I don’t have any good photos of CFS. I’ve tried, but it’s not the most photogenic dish.

On the other hand, I have taken tons of crazy cloud photos here in Texas, and since “cloud” starts with C, I’m using a couple of those photos to adorn today’s post.

A to Z blogging challenge

This was my post for the letter C of the A to Z blogging challenge. Tune in tomorrow to see what the letter D will bring!

In the meantime, click on this link to find out what other A to Z blogging challenge folks are writing about.

Tui Snider
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Published inTravel Photo Essays


  1. When I worked for a Dr’s office at Big Baylor, I would eat CFS at least twice a month. I don’t miss it now, but it’s something I’ll definitely have the next time I go back!

    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      Hi Sonia,

      I finally had CFS a couple days ago. It was much better than I expected! The batter was crunchy and light.


  2. Visiting from A to Z.

    CFS – who knew? Personally, I’m glad you couldn’t get a good shot of it. I love the cloud photo.

    You’re making me want to take a trip to Texas.

    The Daille-y News

  3. Ah CFS..I thought it was a disease too, at first. Lovely cloud photos!

    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      Hi Damyanti,

      Aha – so it isn’t just me? Yeah, the clouds down here in Texas are mighty photogenic.

      Thanks for dropping by!

  4. I had never made that connection. I used to love eating Weiner Schnitzel in Germany when I was a kid. I never realized that Chicken fried steak was basically the same thing. Although I remember it being a brown gravy and of course fries with it. Oh how I miss German food. It was always so good! Thanks for sharing this info.

    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      Hi Morgan,

      How long did you live in Germany? I never made the connection to CFS either until I did a little digging for this post. Maybe the white gravy is the Texan input.

      Re: the fries. When I lived in Belgium, they served fries with everything!


      • I lived in Heidelberg, Germany for four years from 7 years old to 12. My dad was in the Army. I would love to go back now to see it through adult eyes. And of course to eat the food. Yum!

        • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

          Hi Morgan,

          Also, as an adult you could finally sample some of the beer with your schnitzel!


  5. In my opinion, the best CFS in Tejas is at the corner of Hwy 281 and 290, in Johnson City. I can’t remember the name of the place for the life of me but I think the word “cupboard” is involved. It’s a totally nondescript building. I never thought about CFS being like the King William district in San Antonio…that was the Kaiser Wilhelm district before the first world war, when Anti-German sentiment forced a lot of name changes.

    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      Hi Charlie,

      If you remember the name of the restaurant – let me know. It seems like I’d better actually eat some CFS now after this post!

      Interesting, too, about the Kaiser Wilhelm district being renamed. Thanks for the tidbit!


  6. I love good chicken fried steak on occasion and have to admit that I have one now and then while in Texas. On the other hand, it is not a great way to lose weight and I’ve been trying to do that for the last year! :-)

    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      Hi Janice,

      Yeah, I rarely eat meat, so I can’t even remember the last time I tried CFS. After writing this post, though, I feel like I ought to order one for the sake of research!


  7. Oh man, do I love country fried steak! I was overseas for a long period of time and thought many times about it! I never connected it to wiener schnitzel but that definitely make sense. Interesting post! :)

    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      HI Carolyn,

      I didn’t realize there was any similarity to wiener schnitzel until I did a little research. Thanks for stopping by! :)


  8. Great Texas subjects! We had plenty of stormy clouds earlier today.

    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      Hi Carol,

      Yup! It’s storm season here in Texas, isn’t it? I may need an excuse to post more photos of the dramatic skies.


  9. I would have guessed that it was a disease too! Fun post. I’m not a fan of CFS but maybe that’s because I’ve never had it in Texas.

    Love the cloud photos too!

    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      Hi Julie,

      Y’know, I don’t think I’ve actually tried CFS since movning here! I really ought to, for cultural reasons if nothing else. I don’t tend to eat much meat, though.


    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      Hi Joanne,

      I tried editing some CFS pix, but I just could not make them look remotely appetizing!

      Glad I could make you laugh. :)


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