Most of the drive from Louisiana to Oklahoma isn’t the most inspiring unless you’re a fan of oil refineries and flatlands. However, the landscape starts to change into rugged hills as the route moves through southern Oklahoma toward Chickasaw territory.
Heading in on interstate I-35 from the south, the Chickasaw’s Beidre chocolate factory, one of many components of Chickasaw Enterprises, is a must-stop destination. It’s easy to find since it’s directly next-door to the Chickasaw Welcome Center that features a number of quality, Native-produced items.
Beidre’s delicious chocolate is sold in fine establishments like Nieman Marcus, and the operation employees over 30 people, most of whom are Tribal members.
While chocolate is typically not considered a “healthy” food, it has also been shown to have positive effects and is indigenous to the Americas. Beidre’s product line is of superb quality, with none of the artificial stabilizers found in most commercial chocolates (which does make it melt a little more quickly).
It’s sometimes easy to forget the enormity of the United States until you drive across it. North Texas is mostly flat, but we did manage to find a great local supperclub.
We barely had a chance to set out of the van before one of the cooks approached us wanting to know everything we carried. He even came up to our table in the restaurant, asking if we could give an inventory list to their owner. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of all five kitchen staff gathering around pointing to everything on the list…probably should have left them a bag of wild rice even if they’d have no idea what to do with it. Part of the challenge/opportunity is getting chefs at Native establishments so interested in Tribal food products.