Food for Thought
I consider myself a Texan, not a native but a Texan nonetheless. Like the saying goes, I wasn’t born here but I got here as soon as I could.
As an Air Force brat we lived all over the world until we came to Texas when I started high school. Even before that we would visit my grandparents at their ranch in Poteet, enjoying the annual Strawberry Festival, eating cheesy Tex-Mex combo platters at the diner in town and drinking cold Big Reds from grandma’s fridge.
Of course, once we moved here I never really wanted to live anywhere else. There are just so many things to love about the Lone Star State and chief among them is food.
Of course, once we moved here I never really wanted to live anywhere else. There are just so many things to love about the Lone Star State and chief among them is food. Big thick steaks, San Antonio puffy tacos, Frito chili pie (eaten right out of the bag of chips with a plastic spork), a bowl of red, buttermilk biscuits with cream gravy and big pieces of sausage, cornbread spread with jalapeño jelly, pecan crusted snapper fresh from the Gulf Coast, deep fried funky fair foods, King Ranch casserole, just a simple handmade tortilla with butter. I could go on and on, but if you’re a Texan you know what I’m talking about. Yes you do.
So maybe you weren’t born here, but you’d still like to lay claim to being a Texan. There are a couple of things you need to have, like at least one pair of cowboy boots and an occasional hankering for a cold long neck. And, you need to be able to answer these food questions. Correctly. Ready?
The Official Are You a Real Texan Food Quiz
Question No. 1: Do you eat Tex-Mex for breakfast?
Congratulations! I’m sure you answered yes to this as any real Texan will eat Tex-Mex three times a day if it’s on the menu.
And I don’t mean just a ubiquitous breakfast taco; I mean a full meal of cheesy enchiladas with a fried egg on top with rice and refried beans. I mean hitting up that barely-health-department-legal taco truck on the way to work for tortillas loaded with barbacoa or carnitas and maybe some chili con queso drizzled on top.
Or, my personal favorite, pulling those leftovers from last night’s La Mexicana meal out of the fridge and dumping some beans and rice and mole into a coffee cup and heating it up in the microwave. Now that’s a breakfast of Texas champions.
Question No. 2: Do you put ketchup on your hamburger?
I really hope you got this one right because I think it’s only transplanted Yankees who eat a juicy burger with ketchup. I swear I remember a time when Sonic drive-ins didn’t even offer ketchup on their burgers. They only offer it as an option now because of the afore-mentioned influx of Yankees.
The correct answer, of course, is “Hell no, I only eat mustard on my hamburgers!”
And no fancy-pants Grey Poupon, just plain old yellow mustard. If you got this one right, proceed to the next question.
Question No. 3: Sauce or no sauce on your barbecue?
Ding, ding, ding! Of course you want sauce on that beef brisket. And you know you want beef barbecue and not pulled pork, because that’s an eastern thang.
Bonus points if you insist on real Texas BBQ sauce with that spicy and sweet tomato tang and not some non-Texas vinegar sauce. Let Kentucky and the Carolinas think what they will, but barbecue is a religion in Texas and we know what we like.
Question No. 4: How do you spell the name of the world’s oldest major soft drink?
Seriously, seriously? There is no period in Dr Pepper. Period.
I am constantly shocked at the publications and posts that spell Dr Pepper as Dr. Pepper. Come on, if you’ve lived in our fabulous state for any length of time at all and imbibed in this delicious soda made from 23 flavors you should know this one. DP is Texas crack, it is the perfect morning after pick-me up and it’s even used in cooking.
And, on a side note, y'all in corporate need to just chill out and back off that lawsuit against Dublin Dr Pepper. Everyone knows Dublin’s bottling plant is the only place that makes real DP with pure sugar cane. If you’re a real Texan you should go to Facebook and like Dublin Dr Pepper. You can donate to their legal defense fund and you’ll get a cool T-shirt. And bragging rights that you are helping save a true Texas tradition.
And, finally, question No. 5: Beans or no beans in chili?
No. There is no debate over this. If you said beans you have flunked and cannot lay claim to being a real Texan.
Chili con carne, a staple of cattle trail drives and the food that the famous chili queens fed the Mexican army in San Antonio’s Military Plaza more than 200 years ago, is not made with beans. Beans were added at some point by those who couldn’t afford to use meat.
Real Texas chili does not contain beans. Ever. The annual Terlingua International Chili Championship put on by the Chili Appreciation Society International (yes, there is such a thing) does not allow beans. You may substitute venison for beef but you may not add beans. People in Boston put beans in their chili. ‘Nuf said.